Columbus Ohio Immigration and Visa Lawyer Discuses the Astounding Backlog of H-1B Visas Accrued at the Vermont Service Center, Is Increased Focus on the Neufeld Memo to Blame?

waiting.jpgAdjudication of H-1B Visas at the Vermont Service Center (VSC) appears to have slowed to a snail’s pace. A report issued today regarding the VSC, which adjudicates H-1B visa petitions of persons working on the east coast, indicates that the pace of adjudication for H-1B visas filed with the VSC has slowed from 2 months to more than five months since the VSC last reported in June of 2010.

This development should come as no surprise considering all of the additional requirements placed on adjudicating officers since January of 2010. Specifically, the Department of Labor increased the time for LCA Certification from seconds to five business days last year. The Neufeld memo revised the standards by which the employer/employee relationship was measured. This development spawned a wave of Requests for evidence which essentially double the time for adjudicating each petition. Recently, a new wave of RFEs has been issued, requesting that petitioners show that the employer-employee relationship will last throughout the duration of the requested H-1B time, again doubling the time requirements for adjudication.

At the same time it has been indicated to members of AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association that the USCIS is not hiring new employees and has not hired for some time because of budget shortfalls. These developments lead me to believe that the increased enforcement activities of the USCIS have placed a heavy burden on the adjudicating officers, resulting in large delays. In essence, the effort to remove weed out a few bad actors from the H-1B visa program has injured everyone filing at the Vermont Service Center.

What is surprising is that the California Service Center has not reported such delays, although in practice, petitioners have been waiting for extended periods of time before receiving approvals on simple prima facie H-1B cases. It is more likely than not that the California Service Center will be reporting similar delays in when the next round of processing times is released three months from now.

What Can be Done to Ensure an H-1B Visa is Adjudicated Timely ?

Give yourself as much time as possible to file for the H-1B and wait for the approval or other decision. H-1B visas can be filed up to 180 days in advance. Attorneys need time to plan and assemble H-1B petitions in this new age of USCIS enforcement. The days of the one day turnaround for an H-1B visa are long gone, so plan ahead. Additionally, premium processing is available for those that wish to pay the extra $1,000 to have their case adjudicated in a time frame of about two weeks on average. However, all H-1B petitioners and beneficiaries need to start planning early and work closely with your attorney to avoid the inconvenience of delay.

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If you have questions about an immigration visa or green card matter, and/or you need help in an immigration process, please contact our immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates Co., LPA at the nearest office close to you to consult with an attorney. Our law firm handles various matters including Green Cards and Permanent Residence, family immigration, immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, employment visas and H1B visas, Investor Visas, PERM applications, and many more. Please contact us and experience how our law firm can assist you in your immigration matters. Whether you are an employer, an employee or a family member, The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA has competent, responsive and innovative lawyers who can make your immigration experience pleasant and seamless.