USCIS Reaches FY 2020 H-1B Regular Cap

USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions projected as needed to reach the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap for fiscal year 2020. USCIS will next determine if we have received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings (PDF, 119 KB).

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, are exempt from the FY 2020 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. We encourage H-1B applicants to subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Cap Season page.

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USCIS Launches H-1B Employer Data Hub

USCIS has launched an H-1B Employer Data Hub to provide information to the public on employers petitioning for H-1B workers. The data hub is part of our continued effort to increase transparency in employment-based visa programs by allowing the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year (back to FY 2009), NAICS code, employer name, city, state, or ZIP code. This will give the public the ability to calculate approval and denial rates and to review which employers are using the H-1B program. Data for individual fiscal years is available to download on the H-1B Employer Data Hub Files page.

To help the public use the data hub and understand the terminology in it, we have also created the Understanding Our H-1B Employer Data Hub page.

We will provide cumulative quarterly updates and annual releases of the data and we anticipate updating the H-1B Employer Data Hub quarterly. For example, data for the first quarter (October-December) of a fiscal year will be provided in April of that fiscal year.

The H-1B program allows employers in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.

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Re-Registration Period Now Open for Individuals with Temporary Protected Status under South Sudan’s Designation

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under South Sudan’s designation who want to maintain their status through the 18-month extension period ending on Nov. 2, 2020, must re-register between April 5, 2019 and June 4, 2019.

Re-registration procedures, including how to renew employment authorization documents (EADs), have been published in the Federal Register and are available at uscis.gov/tps.

All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Applicants may also request an EAD by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, when they file Form I-821 or separately at a later date. Like all USCIS forms, both forms are free for download from the USCIS website at uscis.gov/forms.

USCIS will issue new EADs with a Nov. 2, 2020, expiration date to eligible beneficiaries under South Sudan’s TPS designation who timely re-register and apply for EADs. Given the timeframe involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, however, we recognize that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on May 2, 2019. Accordingly, we have automatically extended the validity of those EADs for 180 days, through Oct.29, 2019.

On March 8, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced that the statutory conditions supporting South Sudan’s TPS designation on the basis of ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions continue to exist and that the designation should be extended by 18 months. Secretary Nielsen made her decision after reviewing country conditions and consulting with appropriate U.S. government agencies. As a result, South Sudan’s TPS designation has been extended through Nov. 2, 2020.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).  

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Non-Profit Organization Operator Pleads Guilty for Her Role in Armenian for-Profit U.S. Visa Fraud Scheme

Stella Boyadjian, 48, of Rego Park, New York pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to unlawfully bring in aliens, visa fraud, and aggravated identity theft before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket J. Bulsara in the Eastern District of New York for her role in a multi-year visa fraud scheme that brought Armenian citizens into the United States for profit.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York and U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Director Christian J. Schurman, made the announcement.

According to the indictment, Boyadjian, led a transnational network of co-conspirators who engaged in a widespread visa fraud scheme to bring Armenian citizens into the United States by fraudulently claiming to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the Armenians were members of performance groups, and thus qualified for P-3 “Culturally Unique Artist” visas.

The P-3 nonimmigrant visa classification allows foreign nationals to temporarily travel to the United States to perform, teach or coach as artists or entertainers, under a program that is culturally unique.  A U.S. employer or sponsoring organization is required to submit a USCIS Form I-129 Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker, along with supporting documentation, attesting that the performances in the United States are culturally unique.

In February 2018, Boyadjian, Hrachya Atoyan, 31, of Glendale, California; and Diana Grigoryan, aka “Dina Akopovna,” 42, of the Republic of Armenia were charged in a 15-count indictment with visa fraud and with conspiracy to: defraud the United States, commit visa fraud, and illegally bring aliens into the United States.  Boyadjian and Grigoryan were also charged with related money laundering charges, and Boyadjian was charged with aggravated identity theft.

As alleged in the indictment, Boyadjian ran a non-profit organization called Big Apple Music Awards Foundation (BAMA) based in Rego Park, New York.  Boyadjian used the Big Apple Music Awards Foundation as well as formal and informal music industry contacts in the United States and Armenia to perpetuate the scheme.  Boyadjian and others solicited Armenian citizens who wanted to come to the United States and charged them between $0 and $10,000 to be included on the Form I-129 Petitions.  Boyadjian and other associates in Armenia then acquired fraudulent performer certificates and organized staged photo sessions where the aliens wore traditional Armenian folk outfits to make it appear as though they were traditional Armenian performers.  After being trained how to defeat U.S. visa interviews, the individual aliens presented these certificates and photos to U.S. consular officers during their visa interviews.  Once the Armenians entered the United States, some would pay Boyadjian and her associates additional money to be included in another fraudulent petition asking for P-3 visa extensions. 

Sentencing has not yet been scheduled for Boyadjian.

This case was a joint investigation by the DSS’s Criminal Fraud Investigations and Overseas Criminal Investigations Divisions with assistance from the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security, Center Fraud Detection Operations in Vermont.  Trial Attorney Sasha N. Rutizer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gopstein of the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case.

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Hampden Woman Sentenced to Five Years of Probation for Conspiracy to Commit Marriage Fraud

BANGOR, Maine – United States Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced that Marena Mushero, 28, recently of Hampden, Maine, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court by Judge Lance E. Walker to five years of probation for conspiring to enter a marriage in order to evade U.S. immigration laws.

According to court records, Mushero, a United States citizen, posted an advertisement on an on-line forum, in which she offered to marry a person in need of permanent resident status in exchange for money.   On June 13, 2018, she received a response from a Nepalese citizen who was lawfully in the U.S. and living in another state.  Mushero agreed to marry him in exchange for cash payments so that he could get a “green card.”  On June 25, 2018, Mushero and her coconspirator were married in Brewer, Maine.  Before and after the wedding, Mushero received hundreds of dollars via wire transfers from her coconspirator, who continued to live and work in another state. 

In imposing the sentence, Judge Walker noted that Mushero is due to complete an eight-month state prison term next week for an unrelated offense.

The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Brewer Police Department.

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis).

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