Wednesday, April 29, 2009

US consulates in Mexico suspend non-essential services

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and all U.S. Consulates throughout the country have suspended all non-essential services to the public until May 6, due to the swine flu outbreak. Consular services for U.S. citizens will be limited to emergency assistance and to citizenship applications (passports and consular reports of birth abroad). See here for the embassy notice. The consulates will reschedule appointments that have been cancelled.

For more information, see the
State Department Travel Alert and the CDC notices.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

H-1B cap count updated

According to USCIS, the agency has now received new 45,000 H-1B petitions towards the regular cap of 65,000. See here for details.

Monday, April 27, 2009

H-1B and L-1B Visa Reform Act introduced in Congress

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today introduced the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act - narrowly-tailored bipartisan legislation that would, in their words,
reform the H-1B and L-1 guest-worker programs to prevent abuse and fraud and to protect American workers.
Senator Durbin's website states the following:
The H-1B visa program should complement the U.S. workforce, not replace it,” Durbin said. “Congress created the H-1B visa program so an employer could hire a foreign guest-worker when a qualified American worker could not be found. However, the H-1B visa program is plagued with fraud and abuse and is now a vehicle for outsourcing that deprives qualified American workers of their jobs. Our bill will put a stop to the outsourcing of American jobs and discrimination against American workers.
The Reform Act would
  • Require all employers who want to hire an H-1B guest-worker to first make a good-faith attempt to recruit a qualified American worker. Employers would be prohibited from using H-1B visa holders to displace qualified American workers;
  • Prohibit the of “H-1B only” ads and prohibit employers from hiring additional H-1B and L-1 guest-workers if more than 50% of their employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders;
  • Allow DOL to initiate investigations without a complaint and without the Labor Secretary’s personal authorization;
  • Authorize DOL to review H-1B applications for fraud;
  • Allow DOL to conduct random audits of any company that uses the H-1B program; and
  • Require DOL to conduct annual audits of companies who employ large numbers of H-1B workers.