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H-1B and H-2B Cap Exemption for Guam and the CNMI Ends December 31, 2014

The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA), Public Law 110-229, included a provision that exempted H-1B and H-2B nonimmigrant workers performing labor or services in the CNMI and Guam from the Congressionally-mandated H-1B and H-2B annual numerical limitations (the “cap”) from November 28, 2009 to December 31, 2014.  After December 31, 2014, H-1B and H-2B nonimmigrant workers performing labor or services in the CNMI and Guam will no longer be exempt from the H-1B and H-2B annual cap. All H-1B or H-2B petitions for workers in Guam or the CNMI received on or after January 1, 2015, or (if received before that date) with employment start dates on or after January 1, 2015, will be subject to the annual H-1B or H-2B cap unless otherwise exempt.

Filing a H cap-exempt petition

Employers in the CNMI and Guam may still file a cap-exempt petition if:

  • They file a new or extension H-1B or H-2B nonimmigrant worker petition by December 31, 2014, and do so according to the filing instructions for Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
  • The employment start date for the worker’s labor or services is on or before December 31, 2014.
  • They file the petition requesting an extension of the worker’s status before the worker’s current approved status expires.

H-1B visas

All H-1B petitions received after December 31, 2014, will be subject to the H-1B cap unless otherwise exempt.

H-1B caps

  • Regular annual cap: 65,000 H-1B visas are available each fiscal year (FY) (October 1 – September 30).
  • U.S. Master’s Exemption cap: An additional 20,000 H-1B visas are available each year for workers with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

Exemptions from the H-1B cap

  • Under the normal H-1B process, H-1B extension petitions are exempt from the annual cap. But this is only if the initial H-1B was previously subject to the regular annual cap and the beneficiary was already counted against an annual H-1B cap, or if another cap exemption applies.

H-1Bs granted in the CNMI and Guam under the exemption were never previously counted against the cap because they were exempt based on the statute. That is why the petitions have to be receipted by December 31 or earlier in order to continue to benefit from the expiring cap exemption.

  • New H-1B petitions are exempt from the cap if the beneficiary will be employed at a nonprofit institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, or at a nonprofit or governmental research organization.  

When to file H-1B petitions

  • Cap-exempt petitions: Employers in the CNMI and Guam do not need to wait until the original petition and the worker’s status are about to expire. As long as the employment start date requested on the petition is on or before December 31, 2014, employers may file a cap-exempt extension petition on or before December 31, 2014, even if the worker’s current H-1B status will be valid for more than 6 months from that filing date.

If USCIS approves the extension, USCIS may grant the new H-1B petition for up to 3 years from the new requested start date, not from the date the current H-1B status expires. For example, if a person’s current H-1B status expires on August 1, 2015, and the employer files a cap-exempt petition requesting a December 31, 2014 start date, the approved petition’s expiration date may be as late as December 31, 2017.

  • Petitions subject to the cap: The FY 2015 H-1B cap has been reached. Therefore, USCIS will reject all cap-subject petitions for a new or extended H-1B nonimmigrant worker that it receives after December 31, 2014.

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions that are subject to the FY 2016 cap on April 1, 2015. If a Form I-129 petition for the H-1B classification is approved, then the earliest the H-1B worker may begin to work in Guam or the CNMI would be October 1, 2015.

For general information about the H-1B classification and information about the H-1B cap, please see the H-1B Specialty Occupations and H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Cap Season Web pages.

H-2B visas

All H-2B petitions received after December 31, 2014, will be subject to the Congressionally-mandated cap.

H-2B caps

  • 66,000 H-2B visas are available each fiscal year and are allocated as follows:
    • October 1 to March 31:  33,000 visas are available.
    • April 1 to September 30:  33,000 visas are available, along with any unused visas from the first half of the fiscal year.
  • There is no "carry over" of unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year to the next.

When to file H-2B petitions

USCIS anticipates that FY 2015 H-2B visas will still be available for petitioners filing on or after January 1, 2015, but this is subject to demand.

For general information about the H-2B classification and the H-2B cap, please see the Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants and Countries Whose Nationals are Eligible for H-2A and H-2B Participation Web pages.

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E-2C Nonimmigrant Category Expires on December 31, 2014

The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 created the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Investor (E-2C) nonimmigrant visa classification.  This allowed eligible foreign, long-term investors and their spouses and children to remain lawfully present in the CNMI from November 28, 2009 through December 2014 while they resolved their immigration status. This classification was intended to help as the CNMI transitioned from the CNMI permit system to U.S. immigration laws. Unless Congress takes legislative action to extend it, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Investor (E-2C) nonimmigrant visa category will expire on December 31, 2014.

If you have E-2C investor status

If you have E-2C status, you must depart the CNMI after December 31, 2014 or qualify for and obtain another nonimmigrant or immigrant status in order to lawfully remain in the CNMI.

Depending upon your particular circumstances, you may wish to consider other family-based or employment-based categories. These include, but are not limited to:

  • E-2 treaty investor.
  • The CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW) program.

If you do not obtain another nonimmigrant or immigrant status and do not depart the CNMI after December 31, 2014, you will begin to accrue unlawful presence on January 1, 2015. 

E-2 treaty investors

Certain foreign investors may obtain a nonimmigrant treaty investor (E-2) visa to enter the United States or may change from another status to E-2 treaty investor nonimmigrant status within the United States.

To qualify for E-2 treaty investor status, treaty investors must:

  • Invest, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
  • Seek entry solely to develop and direct the enterprise
  • Be nationals of a country with which the United States has a qualifying Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent
  • Intend to depart the United States when their treaty investor status ends

For additional requirements to qualify for the E-2 treaty investor status, please refer to the E-2 Treaty Investors Web page.

Spouses and children of E-2 investors can obtain E-2 nonimmigrant status. In some cases, employees of E-2 investors also can obtain E-2 status. 

CW status

In June 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor extended the CW program for an additional five years.  Although the Department of Labor action did not extend the E-2C program (only Congress can do that), E-2C investors may be eligible to change to CW-1 status if an employer will sponsor them and they meet the conditions of the CW immigration category. Spouses and minor children of CW-1 workers can obtain CW-2 status. Unlike derivative children of E-2C or E-2 children (who must be under 21 years of age), children of CW-1 workers must be under 18 years of age to obtain CW-2 status.

Parole

E-2C nonimmigrants are not eligible for parole in the CNMI. Anyone who has had a nonimmigrant status is not eligible to apply for or to receive parole in the CNMI, regardless of whether or not their nonimmigrant status has expired.

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SAVE Toolkit

This toolkit is for federal, state, and local benefit-granting agencies who do not yet use SAVE. Click on the tabs below to view At-A-Glance Fact Sheets, Promotional Videos and Posters. To register for the SAVE Programs, click on any of the registration tabs below.
At a Glance Video Posters
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SAVE Registration Process. 1) Apply for SAVE Program. Provide additional agency information. Complete and return SAVE program checklist within 30 days. Await SAVE Legal review. 2) Review, Sign, and Return Agreement. 3) SAVE Access Granted. Your agency receives an account number, user name, passwords, access instructions, training on How to Use SAVE.
 

 

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SAVE Program Overview Video

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USCIS Announces Fiscal Year 2014 Grant Recipients During Constitution Week

Nearly $10 Million in Funding to Support Citizenship Preparation Programs in 24 States and the District of Columbia

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) awarded nearly $10 million in grants today to 40 organizations that will help permanent residents prepare and apply for U.S. citizenship. Located in 24 states and the District of Columbia, these organizations will receive federal funding to support citizenship preparation services for permanent residents through September 2016. 

Since it began in 2009, the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has awarded a total of $43 million through 222 competitive grants to public or private non-profit organizations in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Now in its sixth year, the program has helped more than 93,000 permanent residents prepare for citizenship. USCIS anticipates that an additional 32,000 permanent residents will receive citizenship preparation services by Sept. 30, 2016, as a result of the grant program.

“Our Citizenship and Integration Grant Program is an integral part of our agency’s mission of supporting immigrant integration and participation in American civic culture,” said USCIS Director León Rodríguez. “Grant recipient organizations, located throughout the country, are a crucial network of supporters that help tens of thousands of permanent residents access high-quality services and gain access to valuable citizenship information.”

The Citizenship and Integration Grant Program is a major part of USCIS’ efforts to support effective citizenship preparation services and provide information to immigrants and public or private non-profit organizations. Other efforts include the Citizenship Resource Center, a Web resource that provides learning materials to help permanent residents prepare for the naturalization process, and USCIS’ partnerships with federal and municipal agencies that raise awareness of the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship among the estimated 8.8 million permanent residents nationwide eligible to apply for naturalization.

This year’s announcement is part of USCIS’ celebration of Constitution Week, commemorated every Sept. 17-23 in honor of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. During this week, we celebrate our history and reflect on what it means to be a U.S. citizen. For additional information on the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, please visit www.uscis.gov/grants.

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USCIS to Welcome More Than 27,000 New Citizens During Annual Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Celebration

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will welcome more than 27,000 new citizens in more than 160 naturalization ceremonies between Sept. 17 and Sept. 23 in honor of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. During this week—also known as Constitution Week—museums, historic and public libraries, government landmarks and national park sites will provide the backdrop for our celebration of citizenship and the achievements of our newest U.S. citizens.

“U.S. citizenship is defined by what we have in common: equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities,” said USCIS Director León Rodríguez. “As we celebrate our Constitution this week, more than 27,000 new U.S. citizens will now be able to vote, volunteer, participate, and become engaged in issues that are important to them and their families.”

An ongoing partnership with the National Park Service and an agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services allow USCIS to showcase some of the nation’s prominent landmarks and important community institutions during this year’s Constitution Day and Citizenship Day celebration.

National park sites hosting ceremonies span the country from the Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park in Yosemite, California, to the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina. Other landmarks hosting naturalization ceremonies include the Schaumburg Township District Library in Schaumburg, Illinois, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, and the Morristown National Historical Park in Morristown, New Jersey.

In addition, USCIS Deputy Director Lori Scialabba will administer the Oath of Allegiance to 40 candidates at a special ceremony on Angel Island in San Francisco, California on September 17. From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island was the site of an Immigration Station that functioned as the West Coast equivalent of Ellis Island.

For a full list of featured 2014 Constitution Day and Citizenship Day naturalization ceremonies and landmark locations, visit www.uscis.gov/news.

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is celebrated each year on Sept. 17 in remembrance of the signing of the Constitution in 1787. Congress first underscored the significance of U.S. citizenship in 1940 when it designated the third Sunday in May as “I Am an American Day.” In 1952, Congress shifted the date to Sept. 17 and renamed it “Citizenship Day.” Congress changed the designation of this day to "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day" in 2004.

USCIS invites new citizens, their families and friends to share their experiences from the ceremonies via social media using the hashtag #newUScitizen.

For more information about USCIS and our programs, visit http://www.uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook(/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.

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Celebrating Constitution Day and Citizenship Day with Naturalization Ceremonies

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is celebrated each year on Sept. 17 in remembrance of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. USCIS marks this occasion – also known as Constitution Week – by holding special naturalization ceremonies across the country. 

This year, we will welcome more than 27,000 new citizens in more than 160 naturalization ceremonies between Sept. 17 and Sept. 23. A list of highlighted ceremonies is below.

We welcome you to share your ceremony experiences and photos via Twitter and other social media, using the hashtag #newUScitizen. You can also follow @USCIS  on Twitter and Facebook.com/USCIS.

 

DateCity, StateLocation

Sept. 17, 2014

New York, New York

Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse

Sept. 17, 2014

Providence, Rhode Island

Roger Williams National Memorial

Sept. 17, 2014

Tumacacori-Carmen, Arizona

Tumacácori National Historical Park

Sept. 17, 2014

Independence, Missouri

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

Sept. 17, 2014

Sacramento, California

Sacramento Memorial Auditorium

Sept. 17, 2014

Quincy, Massachusetts

Adams National Historical Park

Sept. 17, 2014

San Diego, California

Golden Hall

Sept. 17, 2014

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

National Constitution Center

Sept. 17, 2014

Yosemite, California

Yosemite National Park Glacier Point

Sept. 17, 2014

Wilmington, North Carolina

Battleship North Carolina

Sept. 17, 2014

St. Louis, Missouri

Old Courthouse, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Sept. 17, 2014

Toledo, Ohio

University of Toledo Law School

Sept. 17, 2014

Washington, D.C.

National Archives and Records Administration

Sept. 17, 2014

Jamaica, New York

King Manor Museum

Sept. 17, 2014

San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo

Sept. 17, 2014

Portland, Maine

University of Southern Maine

Sept. 17, 2014

Las Vegas, Nevada

Historic Fifth Street School

Sept. 17, 2014

Honolulu, Hawaii

Battleship  Missouri Memorial

Sept. 17, 2014

Flat Rock, North Carolina

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Sept. 17, 2014

Mount Holly, New Jersey

Burlington County’s Olde Historic Courthouse

Sept. 17, 2014

Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Sept. 17, 2014

Staunton, Virginia

Frontier Culture Museum

Sept. 17, 2014

San Francisco, California

Angel Island

Sept. 17, 2014

Brockport, New York

The College at Brockport: State University of New York

Sept. 17, 2014

Louisville, Ohio

Louisville Middle School

Sept. 17, 2014

Morristown, New Jersey

Morristown National Historical Park

Sept. 17, 2014

Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Sept. 17, 2014

Cleveland, Ohio

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Sept. 17, 2014

Shelburne, Vermont

Shelburne Museum

Sept. 17, 2014

Akron, Ohio

Akron-Summit County Public Library

Sept. 17, 2014

Littleton, Colorado

Littleton City Council Chambers

Sept. 18, 2014

Campbell, California

Campbell Heritage Theater

Sept. 18, 2014

Clarkston, Georgia

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Sept. 18, 2014

San Diego, California

Marine Corps Recruit Depot

Sept. 18, 2014

Boston, Massachusetts

Faneuil Hall

Sept. 19, 2014

Vancouver, Washington

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Sept. 19, 2014

Lorton, Virginia

Gunston Hall

Sept. 19, 2014

Jersey City, New Jersey

Liberty State Park

Sept. 19, 2014

Schaumburg, Illinois

Schaumburg Township District Library

Sept. 20, 2014

Vienna, Virginia

Oakton High School

Sept. 23, 2014

Oakland, California

The Paramount Theater

 

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Making Your USCIS Immigrant Fee Payment Video

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Adding Family Members Video

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