Goel and Anderson - News http://www.goellaw.com/ Goel and Anderson. Innovative Approaches to Immigration Law. en-us Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:00:00 +0000 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:58:24 +0000 Employment Agency Owner Charged with H-1B Fraud http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/employment_agencycharged_h1b_fraud http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1164 11/02/2012
The owner of a Los Angeles employment agency has been indicted on immigration fraud charges for allegedly filing more than 100 phony H-1B visa petitions on behalf of aliens she falsely claimed had been recruited for positions with prominent hospitals and non-profit organizations.Lilia Tabafunda, 57, the owner of People's Resources International Services in the Wilshire Center district of Los Angeles, was named in a 10-count indictment returned Thursday afternoon by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges Tabafunda with nine counts of visa fraud and one count of perjury. Two of the charges involve alleged fraud and false statements related to Tabafunda's own naturalization application.The charges are the result of a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General. The investigation began in 2007 after HSI received a lead from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) Fraud Detection and National Security Unit that Tabafunda was filing suspicious H-1B non-immigrant visa petitions.Tabafunda was arrested Oct. 15 by HSI after she attempted to board a Mexico-bound cruise ship, despite prior instructions from special agents not to leave the country. Tabafunda made her initial court appearance the following day and was released on $50,000 bond.Court documents in the case allege that for nearly a decade, Tabafunda used the names of shell companies and non-profit organizations in fraudulent employment-based, non-immigrant visa petitions submitted to USCIS and the U.S. Department of Labor. According to the indictment, Tabafunda falsely claimed that her clients were being sought for positions by prominent organizations, including City of Hope, Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Among the jobs listed on the fraudulent employment visa petitions were budget analysts, clinical research specialists and "health educators."According to court documents, Tabafunda charged her clients anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 to file visa petitions on their behalf. Most of her clients were Philippine nationals who originally entered the United States on tourist visas."Immigration fraud is a serious national problem and this indictment is an outstanding example of all levels of the government working together to fight fraud," said Rosemary Langley Melville, director, USCIS California Service Center. "USCIS officers encountered this scam while processing requests for immigration benefits and worked seamlessly with federal partners to identify and investigate this case. We will continue to identify those who threaten the integrity of our immigration system."Tabafunda is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment Nov. 13 in U.S. District Court. If she is convicted of all 10 counts in the indictment, Tabafunda would face a maximum statutory penalty of 95 years in federal prison. [Source:  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Press Release].]]>
Fri, 02 Nov 2012 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
McDonald's Franchisee Pleads Guilty to I-9 Violation http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/mcdonalds_franchise_i9_violation http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1163 10/31/2012
A Kansas corporation agreed to plead guilty Wednesday to an immigration charge after a federal investigation showed that the manager of one of its McDonald's restaurants in Wichita was an undocumented alien. The guilty plea agreement resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in conjunction with the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General. McCalla Corporation, a McDonald's restaurant franchisee with offices in Wichita, was charged Oct. 31 with one felony count of knowingly accepting a fraudulent identification document offered as proof that an employee was eligible to work. As part of the plea agreement, the corporation agreed to pay a $300,000 fine, and an additional $100,000 forfeiture judgment. According to an affidavit, the investigation began in February 2011 when HSI received information that McCalla Corporation employed illegal workers. McCalla Corporation owns six McDonald's restaurants in Wichita. In the plea agreement, McCalla Corporation admitted that in March 2011 the company's director of operations became aware that one of its store managers was using a false Social Security number. The director told the store manager to provide documents to confirm her eligibility to work. Two days later, the store manager presented a resident alien identification card which the director knew was not genuine. Nevertheless, he updated her paperwork and McCalla Corporation took no further action concerning her employment. ]]>
Thu, 01 Nov 2012 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Proposes Major Changes to LCA Form http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_proposes_major_changes_to_lca_form http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1161 07/11/2012
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed significant changes to Form ETA 9035, the employer-filed Labor Condition Application (LCA) that is used to support H-1B, E-3, and H-1B1 visa petitions.   Employers and employees are likely to be broadly affected by the changes, which appear to negatively impact privacy, work location flexibility, and LCA preparation lead times. DOL believes the proposed changes will strengthen its efforts to undertake more thorough reviews of LCAs while further enhancing its ability to investigate suspected violations.  Along with the new LCA, DOL also proposed a new set of LCA cover pages and a revised version of Form WH-4, which is used by aggrieved parties to submit complaints alleging LCA-related violations.Under DOL's proposed changes, LCAs would now require the name and other sensitive personal data of the prospective employee to be listed on the LCA at the time of filing.  While collection of this information will almost certainly increase the lead time that employers must invest in preparing and submitting an LCA, it also raises more serious concerns.  Indeed, having employers disclose personally identifiable information of employees on the LCA itself seems to raise fairly obvious privacy and identity theft concerns since employers are required to make LCAs available for public inspection.  Moreover, this change will also prevent employers from filing "blanket" LCAs covering multiple openings for employees to be identified in the future, likely adding a significant delay when project or business needs necessitate the employee's move to a new work location.Other significant changes proposed by DOL are as follows:Each LCA would be limited to no more than 10 workers;LCAs would require detailed information about off-site placement of workers, including the names of the end-client companies where workers will be stationed;Employers would be required to list and provide information on any PERM Labor Certification applications filed on behalf of workers included in the LCA.These are dramatic changes to the LCA, and it is important to note that while the revisions have been officially proposed by DOL through a request for public comments, they must be approved by the U.S. Government's Office of Management and Budget before they can be implemented.  DOL is accepting public comments on the proposal through September 7, 2012.Employers and others wishing to provide feedback on the proposed changes should ensure that their comments are received at DOL prior to this deadline. For more information on how this change can affect your organization, please contact a Goel & Anderson attorney
Related Items[photo5R]
New LCA form (ETA 9035) (as proposed by DOL)
New Cover Pages for LCA form (as proposed by DOL)
New WH-4 complaint form (as proposed by DOL)
DOL explanation of proposed changes]]>
Wed, 11 Jul 2012 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
EB-3 Improves; EB-2 Unchanged in August 2012 Visa Bulletin http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/eb-3_improves_in_august_2012_visa_bulletin%2C_but_eb-2_is_unch http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1160
The August 2012 Visa Bulletin advances Priority Date cutoffs
for all countries by a few weeks in the EB-3 Professional and Skilled Worker
category.  For India, EB-3 Professional
and Skilled Worker Priority Dates advance by one week to October 1, 2002, while
for China and the Philippines, Priority Dates advance by six weeks and one
week, respectively.  This sets
Professional and Skilled Worker EB-3 Priority Date cutoffs for China at
November 8, 2005 and June 15, 2006 for the Philippines.

In the EB-2 classification, the news is not as
positive.  As expected, the EB-2 category
remains unavailable for China and India, and it remains unchanged at January 1,
2009 for all other countries.

 ]]>
Tue, 10 Jul 2012 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Think Tank Analysis Finds Spike in L-1 and H-1 Denials http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/think_tank_finds_spike_in_l-1_and_h-1_denials http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1158 NFAP Policy Brief on high denial rates for L-1 and H-1B petitions at USCIS is available on the NFAP website.]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2012 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson March 2012 Visa Bulletin again moves EB-2 for India, China http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/march_2012_visa_bulletin_again_moves_eb-2_priority_dates_for http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1157 As expected, EB-2 visa priority dates continued to improve for March 2012. The U.S. Department of State's March 2012 Visa Bulletin advanced the EB-2 priority cut-off dates for nationals of India and China to May 1, 2010. Unlike the one-year jump in priority dates posted in the February 2012 Visa Bulletin, the March 2012 Visa Bulletin reflects only a four-month advancement. This suggests a more conservative approach in the U.S. Department of State's efforts to avoid oversubscribing available visa numbers. Beginning March 1, 2012, Indian and Chinese nationals, who possess an EB-2 priority date of May 1, 2010 or earlier, will become eligible to file their Adjustment of Status (AOS) Applications.Despite the significant improvement in visa priority dates over the past several months, EB-2 retrogression remains a possibility as the end of the fiscal year approaches. Retrogression is conceivable particularly if USCIS receives a larger than expected number of AOS applications in February 2012 and March 2012.Nominal improvements continue in the EB-3 category. EB-3 priority dates for professionals and skilled workers advanced by one week for India, one month for China, and three weeks for all other countries. The March 2012 EB-3 priority date cut-offs are as follows:EB-3 India: August 22, 2002 (one-week improvement);EB-3 China: January 1, 2005 (one month improvement);EB-3 All Other Countries: March 15, 2006 (three-week improvement).Please access the March 2012 Visa Bulletin for more information on other employment-based visa classifications.classifications.]]> Thu, 09 Feb 2012 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson White House Unveils Startup America Initiative http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/white_house_unveils_startup_america_legislative_agenda http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1156 02/03/2012
According to a Whie House press release, President Obama has sent his Startup America Legislative Agenda to Congress. Building on a prior year of government and private-sector activities to promote entrepreneurship in the U.S., the agenda outlines ideas to expand tax relief and unlock capital for job-creating startups and small businesses through the White House Startup America Initiative.
Urging Congress to "send [him] a common-sense bipartisan bill that does even more to expand access to capital and cut taxes for America's entrepreneurs and small businesses," Obama also proposed two immigration-related reforms to relieve immigrant visa backlog and attract more highly-skilled foreign workers including entrepreneurs to the U.S.:Eliminate the per-country caps on employment-based immigrant visas;Raise the caps on family-based green cards from seven percent to 15 percent.These reforms would help address some of the longest backlogs without increasing the total number of available immigrant visas.Other proposals include:Eliminating capital gains taxes on key investments in small businesses;Offering a 10-percent income tax credit for 2012 on new payroll added in 2012;Permanently doubling the deduction allowance for start-up expenses to $10,000;One-year extension of 100-percent first-year depreciation for qualified property acquired and placed in service before January 1, 2013;Raising "mini-offering" limits that trigger public financial reporting obligations from $5 million to $50 million;Allowing entrepreneurs and small businesses to raise capital through "crowdfunding;"Phasing in securities laws and regulations for smaller, young companies in the first years following their Initial Public Offering (IPO); Increasing annual support allowed under the Small Business Investment Company program to $4 billion.While several government agencies and the private sector through its Startup America Partnership are implementing or renewing measures to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced administrative reforms intended to attract and retain highly-skilled immigrants, including:  Expanding eligibility for 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 international students to include students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM);Allowing spouses of F-1 students to enroll part-time in academic classes; and expanding the number of Designated School Officials (DSOs) at schools certified by DHS to enroll international students;Providing work authorization for spouses of certain H-1B holders who have begun the process of seeking permanent residence in the U.S.;Allowing outstanding professors and researchers to present a broader scope of evidence of academic achievement than regulations currently allow; Allowing E-3 visa holders from Australia and H-1B1 visa holders from Singapore and Chile to continue working with their current employer for up to 240 days while their petitions for extension of status are pending.Also, USCIS has announced that it will host high-level representatives from the entrepreneurial community, academia, and federal government agencies at its Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) Information Summit to be held in Silicon Valley in late February. EIR's mission is to maximize current immigration laws' potential to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent.In response to the president's appeals, the Department of State (DOS) is developing plans to increase efficiency in visa processing for key growth markets such as China and Brazil; and to increase the number of qualified countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program. DOS and DHS are working together to implement streamlined visa processing for qualified returning visitors to the U.S. who were previously interviewed and thoroughly screened.
Rule to Allow Extended Validity of L-1 VisasUnder a pending Final Rule, DOS would begin issuing L-1 visas valid for periods based on the visa reciprocity schedule rather than the petition validity period granted by USCIS. The change would benefit L-1 beneficiaries who are nationals of countries for which the reciprocity schedule prescribes a visa validity period longer than the petition validity period initially approved by USCIS, and who have extended their L stay while in the U.S.]]>
Fri, 03 Feb 2012 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces New VIBE Update Process http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_new_vibe_update_process http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1155 01/30/2012United States Citizenship & Immigration Services ("USCIS") recently announced a new streamlined process by which certain USCIS customers -- private US employers filing employment-based petitions for now -- may submit information about their organizations into USCIS' Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE)'s database. USCIS established the VIBE program to enhance its accuracy and efficiency and to detect fraud in the adjudication process. USCIS has acknowledged that it's Immigration Service Officers (ISOs), who are engaged in adjudicating certain I-129 and I-140 petitions, use this web-based tool to validate basic information about companies or organizations petitioning to employ alien workers. Because VIBE uses Dun & Bradstreet, an independent information provider, as its search database, eligible petitioners may use Dun & Bradstreet's iUpdate for U.S. government customers Web page to update their company information, or more importantly, to correct any errors or inaccuracies about them in their D&B profile. Employment based applications that are subject to a VIBE search include the commonly sought temporary worker visas such as H-1B, L-1, TN, and Religious Worker, and Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor visas, as well as the First (EB1), Second (EB2), and Third (EB3) Preference employer-sponsored immigrant worker visa classifications. USCIS notes that notwithstanding it's use of VIBE, petitioners are still required to meet all the evidentiary requirements applicable to the immigration benefit sought to receive USCIS approval; likewise, USCIS primarily adjudicates a petitioner's application based on evidence on record with the USCIS filing. Nevertheless, USCIS notes that having an accurate D&B profile is particularly significant because this "will allow petitioners to know how their business or organization will be presented in VIBE before they file a petition with USCIS." Indeed, it is not uncommon for USCIS to issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or, in some cases, a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) if a VIBE search results in a potentially conflicting or contradictory information about the petitioner. However, it should be emphasized that petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID must timely and fully respond to USCIS's request, as a failure to do so could result in a denial of immigration benefit sought. Still, with this streamlined update process, USCIS has empowered petitioners to control some of the information that USCIS may access using VIBE, which should thereby enable petitioners to potentially avoid receiving an RFE or NOID as a result of a VIBE hit.]]> Mon, 30 Jan 2012 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Priority Date Improvements Continue Through March 2012 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/priority_date_improvements_continue_through_march_2012 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1154 Mon, 30 Jan 2012 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson February 2012 Visa Bulletin: Big Advance for India, China http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/february_2012_visa_bulletin_dramatically_advances_india_and_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1153 01/09/2012
In yet another significant move, the U.S. Department of State's February 2012 Visa Bulletin advanced the EB-2 priority date cut-offs for nationals of India and China to January 1, 2010. This represents a full, one-year advancement over the State Department's previous Visa Bulletin issued in January 2012. While the January Visa Bulletin brought welcome news to a large number of Indian and Chinese nationals with advanced degrees, the February 2012 Visa Bulletin is certain to bring further relief to nationals in the EB-2 category from both countries. Beginning on February 1, Indian and Chinese nationals who possess an EB-2 Priority Date of January 1, 2010 or prior will become eligible to file Form I-485, Adjustment of Status (AOS) Applications for themselves and their dependent family members.
The February Visa Bulletin is remarkable because it brings the EB-2 visa backlog for nationals of India and China to a relatively manageable two-year period.  Nonetheless, as we cautioned when the January 2012 Visa Bulletin was issued, it should be noted EB-2 retrogression is possible in the coming months, particularly if USCIS receives a larger than expected number of AOS applications in February 2012.
Unlike the EB-2 category, however, the Visa Bulletin brings barely any relief to aliens with EB-3 priority dates.  In the case of Indian nationals, the February Visa Bulletin remains unchanged from the previous month. EB-3 priority dates for professionals and skilled workers will advance as follows:

EB-3 India: August 15, 2002 (a one-week improvement);

EB-3 China: December 1, 2004 (a month and a half or a six-week improvement); and, 

EB-3 (all other countries) February 22, 2006 (a three-week improvement).
Please access the February Visa Bulletin for information on other employment-based visa classifications.]]>
Mon, 09 Jan 2012 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
India and China EB-2 Priority Dates Leap Forward http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/india_china_eb-2_priority_date http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1152 12/09/2011
The U.S. Department of State's January 2012 Visa Bulletin shows very significant advancement in the EB-2 priority date cut-offs for India and China, to January 1, 2009. This represents an advancement of 10 months over the previous December 2011 Visa Bulletin, and it will come as welcome news for large numbers of advanced degree professionals and exceptional ability aliens from both countries. It should be noted, however, that this rapid advancement in EB-2 cut-off dates is the result of lower than expected demand from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) over the past few months. As such, future retrogression of EB-2 priority date cut-offs for India and China are possible in 2012, particularly if USCIS receives a larger than expected number of Form I-485 Applications for Adjustment of Status in January 2012.
In the EB-3 category, the advancement in priority date cut-offs is not nearly as significant. EB-3 priority dates for professionals and skilled workers will advance as follows:

EB-3 India: August 8, 2002 (a one-week improvement);
EB-3 China: October 15, 2004 (a five-week improvement); and
EB-3 (all other countries) February 1, 2006 (a two-week improvement).
Information on other employment-based visa classifications is available in the latest Visa Bulletin.]]>
Fri, 09 Dec 2011 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
FY2012 H-1B Cap Has Been Reached http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/fy2012_h-1b_cap_count_uscis http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1144 11/23/2011
On November 22, 2011, USCIS received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the statutory cap for FY 2012. USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption as of October 19, 2011. USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions for new H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY 2012 that are received after November 22, 2011.
USCIS continues to accept cap-exempt petitions, DOD petitions and Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2012.
 
FY2012 H-1B Cap Count: Exhaustion is Imminent
11/22/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of November 18, 2011, it has received 61,800 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap of 65,000 visas. In addition, USCIS again indicated that it has already received another 20,000 filings toward the allocation of visas set aside for visa beneficiaries who hold U.S. master's degrees, thereby exhausting the H-1B "Master's cap."
H-1B cap usage has spiked in the past few weeks, but this most recent announcement indicates that the immigration agency has received 5,500 filings in the four days since its last publicly disclosed count. Given that just 3,200 cap-subject H-1B numbers remain available as of November 18, it is highly likely that exhaustion of the entire FY2012 cap is imminent.
For employers, this means that any cap-subject H-1B petitions should be filed with USCIS immediately. Assuming the cap is reached within the next few days, new cap-subject H-1B visa filings will then not be possible until April 1, 2012, which is the beginning of the FY2013 H-1B filing period.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 "Regular" cap and the Master's Cap and provide further updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through November 14
11/15/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of November 14, 2011, it has received 56,300 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap. In addition, USCIS again indicated that it has already received another 20,000 filings applied to the "Master's cap." While the number of "Master's cap" cases presumably exhausts this fiscal year's allotment of H-1B visas that are explicitly reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S., the Immigration Service has made not specific announcement indicating that the Master's cap has been officially reached.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the Master's Cap and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through November 2
11/07/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of November 2, 2011, it has received 50,800 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap. In addition, USCIS again indicated that it has already received another 20,000 filings applied to the "Master's cap." While the number of "Master's cap" cases presumably exhausts this fiscal year's allotment of H-1B visas that are explicitly reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S., the Immigration Service has made not specific announcement indicating that the Master's cap has been officially reached.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the Master's Cap and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through October 28
11/01/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of October 28, 2011, it has received 49,200 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap. In addition, USCIS confirmed that it has already received another 20,000 filings applied to the "Master's" cap, that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through October 21; "Master's Cap" Reached
10/25/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of October 21, 2011, it has received 46,200 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap. In addition, USCIS announced that it has received 20,000 filings applied to the "Master's" cap, that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through October 14
10/19/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of October 14, 2011, it has received 43,300 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 19,600 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through October 7
10/12/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of October 7, 2011, it has received 41,000 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 19,000 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through September 23
10/11/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of September 23, 2011, it has received 36,300 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 17,700 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through September 9
09/14/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of September 9, 2011, it has received 32,200 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 16,700 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through August 26
08/31/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of August 26, 2011, it has received 29,000 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 15,800 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through August 12
08/16/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of August 12, 2011, it has received 25,300 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 14,700 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through July 29
08/04/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of July 29, 2011, it has received 22,700 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 13,800 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through July 22
07/26/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of July 22, 2011, it has received 21,600 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 13,300 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through July 15
07/19/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of July 15, 2011, it has received 20,500 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 12,800 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through July 1
07/13/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of July 1, 2011, it has received 19,000 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 12,200 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through June 24
06/30/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of June 24, 2011, it has received 17,400 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 11,300 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through June 17
06/24/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of June 17, 2011, it has received 16,300 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 10,800 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through June 13
06/19/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of June 13, 2011, it has received 15,200 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 10,200 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through June 1
06/07/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of June 1, 2011, it has received 13,600 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 9,300 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through May 26
06/01/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of May 26, 2011, it has received 13,100 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 9,000 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through May 20
05/26/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of May 20, 2011, it has received 12,300 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 8,500 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through May 13
05/13/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of May 13, 2011, it has received 11,200 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 7,900 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through May 6
05/13/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of May 6, 2011, it has received 10,200 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 7,300 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates FY2012 H-1B Cap Count through April 29
05/03/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of April 29, 2011, it has received 9,200 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 6,600 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Issues FY2012 H-1B Cap Count to April 15
04/19/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of April 15, 2011, it has received 7,100 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 5,100 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Issues First FY2012 H-1B Cap Count
04/08/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of April 7, 2011, it has received 5,900 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 4,500 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
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Wed, 23 Nov 2011 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Goel & Anderson Selected for "Best Law Firms" http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/goel_best_law_firms_immigration http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1150 11/01/2011
[photo1R]Goel & Anderson has been selected for inclusion in the 2011-2012 "Best Law Firms" rankings issued by U.S. News Media Group and Best Lawyers®. The firm has been awarded a Tier 2 ranking in the field of immigration law for the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  The annual "Best Law Firms" rankings provide a comprehensive view of the U.S. legal profession that is unprecedented both in the range of firms represented and in the range of qualitative and quantitative data used to develop the rankings. Achieving a high ranking is a special distinction that signals a unique combination of excellence and breadth of expertise.
Vic Goel, Managing Partner of Goel & Anderson, noted "In today's economic environment it is more important than ever to work with a firm that understands your immigration challenges, values you as a client, and anticipates your needs.  We are honored to be recognized for our expertise and commitment to immigration law through Goel & Anderson's inclusion in the annual Best Law Firms rankings."
The mission of "Best Law Firms" from the start has been to help guide referring lawyers and clients--from the country's largest companies needing corporate legal advice to individuals needing skilled guidance--on issues that have a "bet-the-company" implication (in the case of a corporation) or a potentially life-changing result (in the case of an individual).
"U.S News has more than two decades of experience in providing the public with the most accurate and in-depth rankings of a wide range of institutions, including our Best Law Schools rankings," says Tim Smart, Executive Editor of U.S. News & World Report. "Law firms are an integral part of our rankings and a natural accompaniment to the law schools rankings."
"Best Lawyers was very pleased with the reaction from the legal profession and from legal clients to the first edition of the "Best Law Firms" rankings," says Steven Naifeh, President of Best Lawyers. "By combining hard data with peer reviews, and client assessments, we continue to believe that we are providing clients with the most thorough, accurate, and helpful rankings of law firms ever developed."
 
About the U.S. News Media Group
The U.S. News Media Group is a multi-platform digital publisher of news and analysis, which includes the monthly U.S. News & World Report magazine, the digital-only U.S. News Weekly magazine, www.usnews.com, and www.rankingsandreviews.com. Focusing on Health, Money & Business, Education, and Public Service/Opinion, the U.S. News Media Group has earned a reputation as the leading provider of service news and information that improves the quality of life of its readers. The U.S. News Media Group's signature franchises include its News You Can Use® brand of journalism and its series of consumer guides that include rankings of colleges, graduate schools, hospitals, health plans, and more.
About Best Lawyers
Best Lawyers® is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. For over a quarter century, the company has helped lawyers and clients find legal counsel in distant jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. The 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in America includes 41,284 lawyers covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia and is based on more than 3.9 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers. Best Lawyers® also publishes peer-reviewed listings of lawyers in nearly 70 other countries, covering many of the world's major legal markets. Best Lawyers® lists are excerpted in a wide range of general interest, business and legal publications worldwide, reaching an audience of more than 17 million readers.
About Goel & Anderson, LLC
Goel & Anderson, LLC is a leading law firm handling business immigration matters on behalf of a variety of corporations and their employees worldwide. Through highly experienced attorneys, the firm provides its clients with enterprise-wide strategic planning to ensure effective management of visa processes and strict compliance with government regulations concerning immigration. Goel & Anderson, LLC represents clients in every major industry, including applied science, entertainment, food and beverage, healthcare, hospitality, information technology, insurance, manufacturing, media, retail, and transportation. For more information, please visit www.goellaw.com.]]>
Tue, 01 Nov 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S. Consulate in Mumbai resumes H and L visa processing http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._consulate_mumbai_resumes_h_and_l_visa_processing http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1149 09/06/2011
The Department of State has announced that the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai, India has resumed interviews for H and L visa applicants today. This follows a six month period when applicants were required to apply at other consular facilities in India.
Although the U.S. consulates in India issue more H and L visas than any other U.S. consular mission worldwide, the consulate in Mumbai halted the processing of H and L visas on March 3, 2011 due to infrastructure issues at the facility.
A new U.S. Consulate is currently under construction in the Bandra/Kurla area of Mumbai and is expected to open in late 2011.]]>
Tue, 06 Sep 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Launches New "Performance Data" Website http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_launches_performance_data_website http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1147 07/22/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the launch of a new web page containing data reports covering its performance in a broad range of operational areas. USCIS says the reports advance agency efforts to enhance transparency and improve customer service.
“We are proud to announce that, for the first time, we are able to share performance data in critical areas of this agency’s work,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “We remain committed to continuing our efforts to be responsive, open and transparent.”
The new web page includes 10 data sets, of which four will be updated monthly:

Processing times and performance data for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization;
Performance data for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
Statistics on Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, and;
Statistics on Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status.
The site also includes several data sets that will be updated quarterly:

Total number of receipts and approvals by quarter and year-to-date for all form types:
I-485 Performance Data;
N-600 Quarterly Performance Data;
N-644 Quarterly Performance Data;
I-129 H2A Performance Data by State and Company;
I-130 Performance Data;
N-400 Average Cycle Times
USCIS indicated that it will continue to add more data sets to the new Immigration Forms Data web page in the future.]]>
Fri, 22 Jul 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Announces Visa Agreement with Russia http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dos_announces_visa_agreement_with_russia http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1137 07/14/2011
Business and tourist visa issuance to the United States and nonimmigrant business visa issuance to the Russian Federation will be streamlined following a joint announcement on July 13, 2011 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The agreement reflects a larger goal of increased cooperation between the two countries in keeping with the joint statement issued during the meeting of U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Deauville, France on May 26, 2011. According to a Department of State press release, "[t]his agreement will facilitate travel between our two countries and establish stronger ties between our people. The agreement benefits the largest segments of our traveling Americans and Russians - business travelers and tourists, traveling both as individuals and in groups, by granting as a rule, on a reciprocal basis, multiple-entry visas valid for 36 months. The agreement also streamlines the visa issuance process by reducing the documentation required."
The agreement will go into effect after an exchange of diplomatic notes, but the State Department did not announce when this exchange will occur.]]>
Thu, 14 Jul 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Expands Most RFE Response Timeframes http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_interim_memo_on_rfe_timeframes http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1148 07/14/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued an interim policy memorandum requesting public comment on proposed changes to the amount of time that agency officers may provide an applicant or petitioner to respond to a Request for Evidence (RFE).
USCIS' proposed change to RFE reponse periods seeks to provide greater consistency in the issuance of RFEs by amending the standard timeframes USCIS currently provides for responding to RFEs and by limiting the use of discretion to reduce the response time from the standard timeframes.
The interim policy memo establishes:

A standard RFE response timeframe of 30 days for Form I-539; and

A standard RFE response timeframe of 84 days for all other form types, regardless of whether the request is for initial or additional evidence, or whether the evidence is available in the United States or is obtained from overseas sources.
It further instructs that USCIS officers may reduce the response time from the standard timeframes only after obtaining supervisory concurrence, and that this discretion should be used on a case-by-case basis when warranted by circumstances as determined by the adjudicator and the supervisor.
The interim policy memo on RFE timeframes took effect on July 13, 2011, and the period for submission of comments ends on July 27, 2011.
 
Related Items
The Immigration Channel Blog:
Positive Changes to RFE Response Times: Removing Tiered System Increases Consistency and Predictability
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Thu, 14 Jul 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
August 2011 Visa Bulletin to Bring Continued Improvements http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/august_2011_visa_bulletin_to_bring_continued_improvements http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1135 07/12/2011
August 2011 will bring continued improvement for Chinese and Indian nationals in the second employment-based preference category (EB-2). Visa cut-off dates in the EB-2 classification for both countries will advance to April 15, 2007, representing more than a month's advancement from the July 2011 bulletin set at March 8, 2007.
In the third employment-based preference (EB-3) category, immigrant visa availability will advance by seven days for China (to July 8, 2004) and one month for India (to June 2, 2002).
The complete August 2011 Visa Bulletin is available on the State Department's website.]]>
Tue, 12 Jul 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Obama Cites Need to Improve E-Verify http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/obama_cites_need_to_improve_e-verify http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1133 06/30/2011
President Obama detailed his near-term immigration goals at a White House press conference on June 29, 2011 and emphasized the importance of continuing to improve the E-Verify system to ensure it is not "riddled with errors." He dodged the question of whether he would veto a permanent E-Verify bill that did not also contain a legalization component. While continuing to push for comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama underscored the importance of E-Verify. "I think the goal right now is to . . . continue to see if we can perfect the E-verify system. Let's make sure that we have safeguards in place to prevent" situations "in which employers are forced to set up a system that they can't be certain works" or one that exposes "employers to the risk where they end up rejecting a qualified candidate for a job because the list says that that person is an illegal immigrant, and it turns out that the person isn't an illegal immigrant. That wouldn't be fair for the employee and would probably get the employer in trouble as well."
Employers may verify an employee's authorization to work in the United States using the E-Verify tool. Participation in E-Verify is voluntary for most businesses although state law or federal regulation mandates use for some companies. For instance, most employers in Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah are required to use E-Verify. The system is also mandatory for employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause.
On June 12, 2011, USCIS added enhancements to E-Verify including:

New screens that allow employers to collect driver's license information for employees who present a state-issued driver's license and an expanded list of Form I-9 documents to include "List B" and "List C" documents consistent with Form I-9.
A permanent fix that allows employers to input passports and visa document numbers that do not fit the usual pattern.
Simplified password creation procedure and an easier process to add new users.
Flexibility of allowing users to select a future date as the hire date.
Improving guidance within E-Verify, including more than 30 new and revised help text inputs.
Upgraded "Case Details" screens to improve reporting capabilities and allow users to easily locate detailed information for each case created in E-Verify, and
Based on customer feedback from employer agents: program administrators will now receive emails confirming the enrollment of new clients, the list of client companies is now sorted alphabetically increasing the efficiency of the case creation process for all E-Verify employer agent users and E-Verify will evaluate the "Organization Designation" of the applicable client company when users create cases. This will determine whether or not the three-day rule exception reason "Federal Contractor with FAR E-Verify Clause verifying an existing employee" is listed.
The title of prepared testimony on employment verification presented to Congress in April, 2011 by GAO Director of Homeland Security and Justice Richard M. Stana succinctly sums of the current status of E-Verify: "Agencies Have Improved E-Verify, but Significant Challenges Remain."]]>
Thu, 30 Jun 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
State Department Voids DV Lottery Results http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/state_department_voids_dv_lottery_results http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1126 05/13/2011
The U.S. Department of State has invalidated the results of the 2012 Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery. According to an announcment issued today, a computer programming error affected the random selection of lottery winners, and the previous results have been declared null and void because they did not represent a fair, random selection of entrants, as required by U.S. law.
A new selection process will be conducted based on the original entries for the 2012 program. The State Department has announced that applicants who submitted a qualified entry from October 5, 2010 to November 3, 2010 are advised that their DV lottery entry remains valid and will be included in the new selection process.
The results of the new DV selection process are expected to be available on or about July 15, 2011.  More infomation on the 2012 DV lottery is available on the State Department's DV lottery infomation site.
 
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Fri, 13 May 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
June 2011 Visa Bulletin Shows Continued EB-2 Improvement http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/june_2011_visa_bulletin_shows_continued_eb-2_improvement http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1123 05/12/2011
June 2011 will bring continued improvement for Chinese and Indian nationals in the second employment-based preference category (EB-2). Visa cut-off dates in the EB-2 classification for both countries will advance to October 15, 2006, representing a ten week advancement for China and a fifteen week advancement for India.
The recent EB-2 improvements for May 2011 and June 2011 have been the result of an unexpected decrease in demand for first preference employment-based (EB-1) immigrant visas. While priority date advancements will likely continue through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2011), State Department officials report that the pace of advancement is unpredictable. In fact, an unanticipated surge in demand over the next few months could cause the State Department to slow or stop the availability of EB-2 numbers with short notice. According to the State Department, the number of EB-3 applicants re-filing their matters as EB-2 cases greatly affects the predictability of future demand in the category.
In the third employment-based preference (EB-3) category, immigrant visa availability will advance by one month for China (to May 15, 2004) and one week for India (to April 22, 2002).
The complete June 2011 Visa Bulletin is available on the State Department's website.
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Thu, 12 May 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
BALCA Tolls Filing Period for Reconsideration of PERM Denial http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/balca_tolls_filing_period_for_reconsideration_of_perm_denial http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1124 05/10/2011
 
The U.S. Department of Labor's Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) has issued a decision holding that the period for filing a motion for reconsideration is tolled where an Employer did not receive notice of the denial of an Application for Permanent Employment Certification. BALCA's decision, issued in Matter of Cumberland Food Market (2011-PER-00087), hinged on the Department of Labor's failure to provide sufficient evidence that the denial decision had properly been served on the employer.
Under DOL's procedural rules, a request for reconsideration must be filed within 30 days of the date that a labor certification decision is issued by the Department of Labor (DOL). When a request for reconsideration is not received within that time, the denial becomes final. In this instance, the employer's motion for reconsideration was postmarked 86 days after the date of the DOL denial. In requesting reconsideration before BALCA, the employer argued that the time period for filing a motion for reconsideration should have been tolled because neither it nor its attorney received the denial letter, and the only reason it knew about the denial was because it had contacted DOL requesting an update about the status of the application, unbeknownst that it had been issued two months earlier. In response, DOL argued that the employer did not present grounds for tolling of the period for requesting reconsideration because the denial letter had been sent to the address for the employer's attorney, and properly addressed mail is rebuttably presumed to have been delivered. In rejecting this argument, BALCA found that DOL did not present sufficient evidence to invoke a presumption that the denial letter was received. BALCA noted that proof of DOL's internal mailing procedures is required to invoke the presumption that a properly addressed denial letter has been delivered.
Citing an earlier decision (Matter of Madeleine S.Bloom, 1988-INA-152 (Oct. 13, 1989)), BALCA went on to note that there is a distinction between statutory or jurisdictional time limits, which cannot be waived, and the procedural rules of courts and administrative agencies, which may be waived when appropriate. Thus, where the employer has not received, and DOL is unable to establish proper mailing of a notice of decision, BALCA found that sufficient grounds for discretionary tolling of the limitations period has been established.]]>
Tue, 10 May 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Broadens Visa Revocation Authority http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dos_broadens_visa_revocation_authority http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1121 04/27/2011
The U.S. Department of State issued a Final Rule, effective April 27, 2011, broadening the authority of consular officers to revoke a visa at any time subsequent to the initial issuance. Consular Officers may do so at their own discretion within the realm of the law. Generally, a visa may be revoked subsequent to its issuance where information reveals that the applicant either was originally, or has since become, ineligible to possess a U.S. visa.
The most significant change in the rule, however, is that it eliminates the provision permitting reconsideration of a revocation. Instead, the Department of State allows a consular officer or designated officials within the Department to revoke a visa provisionally while considering a final visa revocation. This will be the case where the additional information raises a question of eligibility in regard to an already issued visa. If, after consideration of the information, a person subject to a provisional revocation is found to be eligible, the visa will be reinstated without the need to reapply. If the visa is revoked, the person may reapply for a visa at which time a separate adjudication will occur.
The Department of State explains that this final rule simply grants additional authority to consular officers in revoking visas; an authority they already had in limited, statutorily defined, circumstances.
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Wed, 27 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces Final Rule on I-9 Verification http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_final_rule_on_i-9_employment_eligibility_ver http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1119 04/20/2011
USCIS has adopted its final rule on acceptable documents for the Employment Eligibility Verification process (Form I-9). This final rule adopts USCIS' April 3, 2009 interim rule without any changes. The interim rule's significant changes, now adopted by the final rule, include:

Prohibiting employers from accepting expired documents;
Eliminating from List A identity and employment authorization documentation Forms I-688, I-688A, and I-688B (Temporary Resident Card and outdated Employment Authorization Cards);
Adding to List A foreign passports containing temporary I-551 printed notations on certain machine-readable immigrant visas;
Adding to List A, as evidence of identity and employment authorization, valid passports for citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), along with Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating nonimmigrant admission under the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the FSM or RMI.
Employers using the E-Verify system must have each of their employees complete Form I-9 and accept one or more of the documents provided on List A, B and C, to verify employment eligibility in the United States. List A includes documents that establish both identity and employment authorization, and hence verify employment through one single document. Generally, List A documents include a U.S. passport, Form I-551 (a "Permanent Resident Card") or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). List B documents are those that establish identity and List C documents establish employment authorization. A combination of List B and C documents will satisfy employment eligibility in the United States. List B documents include a State-issued driver's license or identification card. List C documents include a State-issued birth certificate or an unrestricted Social Security Account Number card.
The final rule goes into effect May 16, 2011. Employers may continue to use the current version of Form I-9 (Rev. 08/07/2009) or the previous version (Rev. 02/02/2009).
Goel & Anderson's website contains additional information on E-Verify and I-9 compliance, as well as Employer Sanctions. For a more detailed analysis of your company's employment eligibility obligations and processes, please contact us to arrange an in-person or telephonic consultation with one of our attorneys.
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Wed, 20 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count through April 15 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_issues_fy2012_h-1b_cap_count_to_april_15 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1117 04/19/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of April 15, 2011, it has received 7,100 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 5,100 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
Related Items
USCIS Issues Initial FY2012 H-1B Cap Count - 04/08/2011
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Tue, 19 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Advisory Opinion on Export Control Regulations and Staffing http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/advisory_opinion_on_export_control_regulations_and_staffing http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1118 04/19/2011
The U.S. Department of Commerce has issued an informal advisory opinion on the applicability of the "deemed export" provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) where foreign nationals work at a third party client site pursuant to a contract between a staffing company and a third party client. In the scenario cited by the Department of Commerce, where the staffing company has control over the employment of the foreign national but does not have control over technology or source code that is provided to the foreign national by the third party client, the third party client is required to obtain authorization for a deemed export that might occur when the third party client provides the foreign national with access to technology or source code subject to the EAR.
The Department of Commerce's position is based on the understanding that the third party client in such a scenario is the exporter because it is making the release of EAR-subject technology to the foreign national.
Despite this clarification, the Department of Commerce cautions that staffing companies and their clients should be aware that the employer in an H-1B, H-1B1 Chile/Singapore, L-1 or O-1A petition is required to provide a certification regarding the release of controlled technology or technical data subject to the EAR or the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Such employers should therefore take appropriate steps to ensure that its representations on USCIS Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) are accurate.
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Tue, 19 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Releases I-140 Statistics for EB-1 Cases http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releases_i-140_statistics_for_eb-1_cases http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1116 04/18/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released statistics on approval and denial rates for Form I-140 petitions involving Extraordinary Ability Aliens and Outstanding Professors/Researchers. These immigrant visa petitions are classified in the first employment based visa preference category (EB-1).
According to USCIS, I-140s filed for Extraordinary Ability Aliens have seen a steady increase in approval rates, from 49% to 62%, between 2007 and 2010. The approval rate during these years increased from 49% to 62%. Extraordinary Ability Aliens must demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim.
EB-1 filings for Outstanding Professors and Researchers show relatively consistent approval rates of 91% to 95% in the covered years, but USCIS statistics evidence a slight decrease in approval rates for these petitions over the past five years. In 2005 and 2006, the approval rate was 94% and 95%, respectively, whereas in 2010, USCIS reports an approval rate of 91%. An EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher must demonstrate international recognition for outstanding achievements in a particular academic field.
Table A provides data on the approval and denial for the E-11 classification (Alien of Extraordinary Ability) of the Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.
 
Table A: I-140 E-11 Approval/Denial by Fiscal Year 2005 to 2010 
 

Fiscal Year

Approvals

Denials

Approval Rate

Denial Rate

2005

791

647

55%

45%

2006

1,646

1,032

61%

39%

2007

2,236

2,313

49%

51%

2008

2,329

2,667

47%

53%

2009

4,337

3,053

59%

41%

2010

3,200

1,998

62%

38%
 
Table B provides data on the approval and denial for the E-12 classification (Outstanding Professor or Researcher) of the Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.
 
Table B: I-140 E-12 Approval/Denial by Fiscal Year 2005 to 2010 
 

Fiscal Year

Approvals

Denials

Approval Rate

Denial Rate

2005

5,042

340

94%

6%

2006

2,991

146

95%

5%

2007

2,459

283

90%

10%

2008

2,148

172

93%

7%

2009

3,893

300

93%

7%

2010

3,140

306

91%

9%
 
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Mon, 18 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Heightens Scrutiny of Visa Applicants in India http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dos_heightens_scrutiny_of_visa_applicants_in_india http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1112 04/14/2011
A U.S. Department of State representative recently cautioned H-1B and L-1 visa applicants that consular officers in India are increasing scrutiny of employment based visa applicants during consular interviews. Speaking at the American Immigration Lawyers Association's spring conference in Washington, DC on April 9, 2011, Jeffrey Gorsky, Chief of DOS' Advisory Opinions Division cautioned, "even if a petition has been approved, clients should be ready to defend their case at the consular interview."
Consular officers may reevaluate cases based on new information and can deny a visa despite USCIS approval of the petition where the applicant's eligibility is in question. The likelihood of this is magnified where applicants are poorly prepared. As such, it is critical that an applicant be prepared to answer questions related to their skills, as well as their role at the company, its industry and structure. Applicants should be comfortable answering questions such as:

What specialized knowledge is necessary for your job?
What visa type are you requesting and why?
Who will supervise your work?
What are your job duties and responsibilities?
Will you be working onsite or offsite?
To adequately prepare, applicants should be very familiar with the information contained in their visa petition package and prepare their responses before the actual interview. To help in spotting and addressing potential interview issues, Goel & Anderson can provide clients with mock interview sessions to help prepare them for visa interviews. In addition to Q&A, Goel & Anderson attorneys offer feedback and provide essential advice on proper demeanor during consular interviews.
Careful preparation by the applicant with the guidance of experienced legal counsel can increase an applicant's confidence and help guard against costly and unintended errors during the consular interview. Remember, petition approval does not guarantee visa issuance.
To arrange a mock consular interview or for more information about Goel & Anderson's global business visa services, please contact us to schedule an in-person or telephonic consultation.]]>
Thu, 14 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Issues Initial FY2012 H-1B Cap Count http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_issues_first_fy2012_h-1b_cap_count http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1111 04/08/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of April 7, 2011, it has received 5,900 filings allocated to the fiscal year 2012 "Regular" H-1B cap and another 4,500 filings applied to the "Master's" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
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Sat, 09 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Immigration Agencies Brace for Possible Government Shutdown http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/immigration_agencies_prepare_for_government_shutdown http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1110 04/08/2011
As the U.S. Congress continues its budgetary deadlock, the possibility of a government shutdown looms larger by the minute. If Congress is unable to reach accord on Friday, the government will close at midnight, Saturday April 9, 2011.
In general, if the government shuts for budgetary reasons, all but "essential personnel" are furloughed and not allowed to work. So what does this mean for immigration agencies?  The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has provided an update:
USCIS: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has confirmed to AILA Liaison that it will be operating, except for E-Verify, if the government does shut down.
DOS: The U.S. Department of State confirmed to AILA Liaison that if there is a shutdown, the only visa processing will be for "life or death" emergencies. In prior budget-related shutdowns, DOS has continued to provide diplomatic visas, but has cautioned that "a really, really important business meeting is not life or death."
CBP: U.S. Customs and Border Protection's inspection and law enforcement staff are considered "essential personnel," though staffing may be more limited than usual. The borders will be open, and CBP is unsure of how the shutdown will affect the processing of applications filed at the border.
EOIR: The Executive Office for Immigration Review has been advised to "put its shutdown plans in place." As with other agencies, personnel who are not considered "essential" will be furloughed. EOIR has indicated that the detained docket would likely be considered an essential function and would therefore be able to continue in operation.
DOL: The Department of Labor is making plans for a possible shutdown, and its Office of Foreign Labor Certification confirmed that it would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown.  If there is a shutdown, DOL personnel will not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries.
Courtesy of the American Immigration Lawyers Association]]>
Fri, 08 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Department of State Issues May 2011 Visa Bulletin http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_issues_may_2011_visa_bulletin http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1114 EB-2 - India Priority Date Advances to July 2006 on Availability of 12,000 Unused Visa Numbers
04/08/2011
The U.S. Department of State has released its May 2011 visa bulletin. An advance in visa numbers available for the second employment based preference category (EB-2) has positively impacted priority dates for India, moving the date from May 8, 2006 to July 1, 2006. The Department of State's Visa Office has indicated that the rapid advancement of EB-2 priority dates for India is based on its projection that approximately 12, 000 visa numbers from the EB-1 preference category will go unused in fiscal year 2011. By law, these "unused" numbers may be made available to the entire world in priority date order for the EB-2 category.
Of the 140,000 employment based visa numbers available for fiscal year 2011, each country is permitted no more than 7% of that total. Each of the five preference categories is allocated a certain percentage of the total visa numbers available. The second preference category (EB-2) is allocated 28.6% of the total. Currently, countries, other than India and China, will meet their demand from the base 28.6% allocation, without the need for the extra 12,000 "unused" visa numbers. This means that the 12,000 visa numbers will be utilized only by India and China based on priority date order without regard to their per country limitation.
The U.S. Department of State reports that currently 17,400 applicants have filed or are ready to file EB-2 Adjustment of Status applications and have a priority date within the 2006 calendar year. This number includes applicants who (1) filed Adjustment of Status applications in July/August 2007 but could not complete the application because of visa number retrogression; those who (2) upgraded from EB-3 to EB-2 by filing new PERM applications; or those with (3) approved EB-2 petitions who have not filed for Adjustment of Status. Of the 17,400 applicants, 13,200 are from India and 4,200 are from China.
It is anticipated that Indian nationals will benefit from more than 75% of the extra 12,000 "unused" visa numbers because approximately 75% of those with the oldest EB-2 priority dates are from India. As a result, the May 2011 visa bulletin reflects an advance in the EB-2 priority date for India, moving it from May 8, 2006 to July 1, 2006.
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Fri, 08 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Subcommittee Holds H-1B Visa Hearing http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_subcommittee_holds_h-1b_visa_hearing http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1108 04/01/2011
The U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing yesterday titled "H-1B Visas: Designing a Program to Meet the Needs of the U.S. Economy and U.S. Workers." The hearing provided a forum for USCIS officials and others in the field to express their views on the current H-1B program and make recommendations for improving it. Issues such as the current H-1B visa cap, the value of attracting highly skilled foreign workers while at the same time protecting educated U.S. workers, and the problems associated with fraud within the H-1B visa program, were raised in the hearing.
Speakers testifying at the hearing included Donald Neufeld, Associate Director for the Service Center Operations Directorate (SCOPS) of USCIS; Ronil Hira, a professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology; Bo Cooper, General Counsel of the former INS from 1999 to 2003; and Bruce Morrison, representing the interests of the U.S. Chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
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Fri, 01 Apr 2011 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
AOS Applicants to Get Combined EAD and AP http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_combines_ead_ap http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1104 2/11/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it is now issuing employment and travel authorization on a single card for certain applicants filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485. This new card represents a significant improvement from the current practice of issuing paper Advance Parole documents.
The card looks similar to the current Employment Authorization Document (EAD) but will include text that reads, "Serves as I-512 Advance Parole." A card with this text will serve as both an employment authorization and Advance Parole document. The new card is also more secure and more durable than the current paper Advance Parole document.
An applicant may receive this card when he or she files an Application for Employment Authorization, Form I-765, and an Application for Travel Document, Form I-131, concurrently with or after filing Form I-485. USCIS will continue to issue separate EAD and Advance Parole documents as warranted. Employers may accept the new card as a List A document when completing the Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9.
As with the current Advance Parole document, obtaining a combined Advance Parole and employment authorization card allows an applicant for adjustment of status to travel abroad and return to the U.S. without abandoning the pending adjustment application. Upon returning to the U.S., the individual who travels with the card must present the card to request parole through the port-of-entry. The decision to parole the individual is made at the port-of-entry. Individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. and subsequently depart and seek re-entry through a grant of parole may be inadmissible and ineligible to adjust their status.
 
Related Items
[photo1L]USCIS Announcement
 
[photo1L]USCIS Q&A on Combined EAD and AP Card
 
[photo1L]USCIS Interim Memo for public comment
 
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Fri, 11 Feb 2011 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
FY2011 H-1B Cap Reached http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_provides_h-1b_cap_count_update http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1094 01/27/2011 
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this evening that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2011.  USCIS is notifying the public that yesterday, January 26, 2011, is the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in FY2011.
The final receipt date is the date on which USCIS determines that it has received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 65,000. Properly filed cases will be considered received on the date that USCIS physically receives the petition; not the date that the petition was postmarked. USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions for new H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY2011 that arrive after Jan. 26, 2011.
USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions that are subject to the cap and were received on Jan. 26, 2011. USCIS will use this process to select petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all remaining cap-subject petitions not randomly selected and will return the accompanying fee.
On Dec. 22, 2010, USCIS had also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the ‘advanced degree' exemption. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted towards the congressionally-mandated FY2011 H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the U.S.;
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 that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
USCIS press release
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through January 21, 2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of January 21, 2011, it has received 62,800 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 20,000 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Since USCIS has yet to officially declare either H-1B cap classification closed or exhausted for fiscal year 2011, Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through January 14, 2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of January 14, 2011, it has received 60,700 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 20,000 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Since USCIS has yet to officially declare either H-1B cap classification closed or exhausted for fiscal year 2011, Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through January 7, 2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of January 7, 2011, it has received 58,700 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 20,000 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Since USCIS has yet to actually declare either H-1B cap classification closed or exhausted for fiscal year 2011, Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through December 31, 2010
01/04/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of December 31, 2010, it has received 57,300 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 20,000 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Since USCIS has yet to declare either H-1B cap classification closed or exhausted for fiscal year 2011, Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through December 24, 2010
01/04/2011
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of December 24, 2010, it has received 55,800 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 20,000 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through December 17, 2010
12/21/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of December 17, 2010, it has received 53,900 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 19,700 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through December 10, 2010
12/14/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of December 10, 2010, it has received 52,400 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 19,100 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through December 3, 2010
12/07/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of December 3, 2010, it has received 51,200 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 18,700 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through November 26, 2010
11/30/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of November 26, 2010, it has received 50,400 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 18,400 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through November 19, 2010
11/23/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of November 19, 2010, it has received 48,977 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 17,836 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through November 12, 2010
11/16/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of November 12, 2010, it has received 47,800 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 17,400 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through November 5, 2010
11/09/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of November 5, 2010, it has received 45,600 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap. USCIS also noted that it has received 16,700 additional filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through October 29, 2010
11/02/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of October 29, 2010, it has received an overall total of 62,300 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 45,600 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 16,700 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through October 1, 2010
10/06/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of October 1, 2010, it has received an overall total of 55,500 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 40,600 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 14,900 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through September 24, 2010
09/28/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of September 24, 2010, it has received an overall total of 54,000 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 39,600 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 14,400 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through August 13, 2010
08/19/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of August 13, 2010, it has received an overall total of 42,000 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 29,700 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 12,300 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through August 6, 2010
08/10/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of August 6, 2010, it has received an overall total of 40,400 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 28,500 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 11,900 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through July 30, 2010
08/03/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of July 30, 2010, it has received an overall total of 38,900 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 27,300 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 11,600 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through July 23, 2010
07/27/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of July 23, 2010, it has received an overall total of 37,300 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 26,000 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 11,300 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
 
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Through July 16, 2010
07/20/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of July 16, 2010, it has received an overall total of 36,300 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 25,300 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 11,000 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
Goel & Anderson will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption and provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
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Thu, 27 Jan 2011 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes First "E-Verify Connection" http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_everify_connection http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1100 12/27/2010
The inaugural issue of a new USCIS e-newsletter, “E-Verify Connection,” includes updates and information regarding the federal government's electronic employment eligibility verification system.
Targeted toward employers, the newsletter provides information on the E-Verify system's newly expanded photo matching capabilities, guidance on handling Puerto Rico birth certificates, and an update on the E-Verify website, upcoming webinars, and more.
 
Related Items
[photo1L]USCIS E-Verify Connection, Issue 1
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Mon, 27 Dec 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
NJ Software Company Debarred from H-1B Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nj_software_company_debarred_from_h-1b_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1101 11/18/2010
A U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge has ordered a New Jersey-based software company, Peri Software Solutions, Inc., debarred from participating in the H-1B program for two years.  The company and its president, Mr. Saravanan Periasamy, are also required to pay civil money penalities of $125,000 and back wages of $635,416.59.
The company admitted to failing to pay 67 H-1B workers the required wage and failing to provide notice of the filing of a Labor Condition Application (Form ETA 9035) at each place where H-1B nonimmigrant workers were expected to be employed.  The company also admitted to unlawfully requiring an H-1B worker to pay a penalty for terminating employment before a specified date.
A copy of the judge's order is included below.
 
Related Items
[photo1L]Wage & Hour Administrator v. Peri Software Solutions Inc., & Saravanan Periasamy
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Mon, 27 Dec 2010 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces New Fees Effective on 11/23/2010 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_new_fees_filing http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1099 09/23/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions. The final rule will increase overall fees by a weighted average of about 10 percent but will not increase the fee for the naturalization application. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, September 24, and the adjusted fees will go into effect on November 23, 2010.
A detailed Fact Sheet and a set of Questions and Answers on the final fee rule from USCIS are included below.
 
Related Items
[photo4L]USCIS News Release on New Filing Fees
 
[photo4L]USCIS Fact Sheet on Filing Fees
 
[photo4L]USCIS Q&A on New Filing Fees
 
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Thu, 23 Sep 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Implements H-1B/L-1 Fee Increase http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_implements_h-1b_and_l-1_fee_increase http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1098 08/19/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today hosted a teleconference to discuss its implementation of the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010, which contains provisions that raise H-1B and L-1 petition filing fees for employers with a U.S. workforce of more than fifty employees when more than fifty percent of those employees hold H-1B, L-1, or L-2 status. This legislation was signed into law by President Barack Obama on August 13, 2010.
Attorneys at Goel & Anderson participated in the teleconference this afternoon, and a summary of the important points are included below in Question and Answer format:
 
When will the new fees be required?
USCIS has indicated that the increased fees will be required for petitions postmarked on or after August 14, 2010, and will remain in effect through September 30, 2014.
Do these increased fees apply to all employers of H-1B and L-1 personnel?
No. The increased H-1B and L-1 fees are applicable only to H-1B and L-1 petitions filed by employers with a U.S. workforce of more than 50 employees where more than 50% of the employees hold H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, or L-2 status.
What is the amount of the fee increase?
An additional fee of $2,000 will be required for H-1B petitions filed by employers who are subject to the increased fee. This amount is in addition to the existing Form I-129 filing fee of $320, the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) fee of $1500, the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500, as well as any premium processing fees, if applicable.
An additional fee of $2,250 will be required for L-1 petitions filed by employers who are subject to the increased fee. This amount is in addition to the existing Form I-129 filing fee of $320, the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500, as well as any premium processing fees, if applicable.
The new fee will only apply to the initial petition filed by an employer on behalf of a foreign national, including petitions requesting a change of employer. The new fee will not apply to extensions of H-1B or L-1 status with the same employer.
Can an H-1B or L-1 employee remit or pay the increased filing fee?
No. The increased fee is to be borne entirely by the employer.
How will USCIS count employees to determine whether a company surpasses the 50% threshold for H-1B or L-1 employees?
USCIS has indicated that this will require comparing an employer's U.S. headcount of all employees against its combined total number of employees who are present in the United States in H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, or L-2 status. Where the combined total of H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, or L-2 employees comprises more than 50% of the U.S. workforce, the employer is subject to the increased fees (assuming it has more than 50 employees in the U.S.). USCIS further indicates that all U.S. employees are to be counted, without regard to whether they are full-time or part-time employees. Persons who are working for the employer in the U.S. but are paid from a foreign payroll should also be counted as employees.
USCIS also indicated that an employer's workforce calculation should be completed each time it is filing an H-1B or L-1 petition. The immigration agency also clarified that employees with a pending Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status, should only be counted toward the total number of H-1B, L-1 and L-2 employees if they are working pursuant to an H-1B, L-1 or L-2 approval rather than pursuant to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued in conjunction with an Adjustment of Status application.
Who is an "employer" for purposes of these fee provisions?
USCIS noted that it will use the regulatory definition of "employer" that appears in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations at Volume 8, Section 214.2(h) (4) (ii), which states:United States employer means a person, firm, corporation, contractor, or other association, or organization in the United States which:

Engages a person to work within the United States;
Has an employer-employee relationship with respect to employees under this part, as indicated by the fact that it may hire, pay, fire, supervise, or otherwise control the work of any such employee; and
Has an Internal Revenue Service Tax identification number.
This definition would seem to preclude an employer from counting the employees of a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or other controlled group of companies in this calculation.
Are the increased fees payable at the time or admission to the U.S. or at the time the application is filed?
USCIS requires covered employers to remit the increased fee at the time an H-1B or L-1 petition that is subject to the increased fee amount is submitted for filing.
Does the increased fee apply to L-1 Blanket petitions?
Although USCIS refused to provide an answer to this question, the statutory language suggests that the increased fee amount will be required of all L-1 petitions filed by a covered employer, irrespective of whether they are filed as individual petitions or under the employer's approved L-1 blanket petition.
As L-1 Blanket petitions are adjudicated by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), it is expected that it will similarly issue guidance in the coming days. Given that DOS has continued to issue visas in recent days without having implemented the new fees, it remains to be seen if the agency will make any effort to retroactively apply the fees to such cases. 
How should a covered employer submit the increased fee?
USCIS is in the process of revising the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), and instructions to comply with the provisions of the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010. In the meantime, USCIS indicated that all H-1B and L-1 petitions received from employers with more than 50 employees would be held for evaluation as to whether the new fees apply.
Thus, until the Form I-129 revision is completed or further guidance is issued, USCIS recommends that all H-1B, L-1A and L-1B petitioners, as part of the filing packet, include the new fee or a statement of other evidence outlining why this new fee does not apply. USCIS noted that an employer who believes it is subject to the new fee should include the additional amount in a separate check made payable to "Department of Homeland Security. USCIS also requested that petitioners include a notation of whether the fee is required in bold capital letters at the top of the cover letter. Where USCIS does not receive such explanation and/or documentation with the initial filing, it may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to determine whether the petition is covered by the new law. An RFE may be required even if such evidence is submitted, if questions remain.
 
Goel & Anderson will provide further updates on this issue as additional details emerge. If you have questions about these provisions, please contact Goel & Anderson for further assistance.
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Thu, 19 Aug 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Large H-1B/L-1 Fee Increases Coming for Some Employers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/congress_passes_border_security_bill%3B_massive_l-1_and_h-1b_f http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1097 08/13/2010
As expected, President Barack Obama has signed the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010 into law. This legislation was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate earlier this week.
Although the stated purpose of this legislation is to strengthen border security by adding funding for 1,500 more U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers along the US-Mexico border, patrolling the border with unmanned drone aircraft, and erection of even more border fencing, it funds this mandate by substantially raising the filing fees of H-1B and L petitions filed by companies that employ 50 or more employees if more than 50% of these employees are admitted on H-1B or L-1 visas.
The relevant provisions of the bill provide that:

The "filing fee and fraud prevention fee" required to be submitted with an application for admission in L-1 status shall be increased by $2,250 for applicants that employ 50 or more employees in the United States if more than 50 percent of the applicant's employees are nonimmigrants admitted in H-1B or L-1 status.

The "filing fee and fraud prevention fee" required to be submitted with an application for admission in H-1B status shall be increased by $2,000 for applicants that employ 50 or more employees in the United States if more than 50 percent of the applicant's employees are nonimmigrants admitted in H-1B or L-1 status.

The increased fees set forth above apply to H-1B and L-1 petitions filed by affected employers during the period beginning with enactment of the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act through September 30, 2014.

The fees collected through these new provisions are to be deposited into the General Fund of the United States Treasury.
While these are the provisions that are currently known, there are many related issues that currently remain unresolved. These issues will likely be addressed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which will be tasked with implementing the new provisions. Some of the issues that remain unclear are:
When will the new fees be required?

As noted above, President Obama has already signed this bill into law. As the legislation imposes the new fees beginning on the date of enactment, it is likely that the new fees went into effect immediately thereafter.
Do these increased fees apply to all employers of H-1B and L-1 personnel?

The increased H-1B and L-1 fees are applicable only H-1B and L-1 petitions filed by employers with a U.S. workforce of more than 50 employees where more than fifty percent of those employees hold H-1B or L-1 status.
How will USCIS count employees to determine whether a company surpasses the 50% threshold for H-1B or L-1 employees?

The statutory language does not include language that specifically addresses how a company would count employees, or whether any differentiation is made for full-time employees versus part-time employees. Moreover, there is no indication of whether the employees of parent, subsidiary, or affiliated firms are included in this calculation.
Are the increased fees payable at the time or admission or at the time an application is filed?

Although the language of the statute provides for the fee to be submitted with an application for admission, it is expected that the fees will be required at the time an H-1B or L-1 petition is filed.
Does the increased fee apply to L-1 Blanket petitions?

The statutory language suggests that the increased fee amount will be required of all L-1 petitions, irrespective of whether they are filed as individual petitions or under an employer's approved L-1 blanket petition.
What is the amount of the new fees?

The statute raises the "filing fee and fraud prevention and detection fee" for affected employers by $2,000 for H-1B petitions and $2,250 for L-1 petitions. It is unclear whether the intent of these provisions is for each petition to require the increased amount of $2000/$2250 or whether the increased amount will be added to both the filing fee and the fraud detection fee, which would effectively double the tariff to $4000 for H-1B petitions and $4500 for L-1 petitions.
As noted above, these issues will likely be resolved by USCIS, which will interpret and implement the new provisions through policy guidance and regulations that should be issued soon.
Goel & Anderson will provide additional updates on this issue as details emerge. If you have questions about these provisions, please contact Vic Goel, Managing Partner of Goel & Anderson.
A summary, FAQs, and a preliminary worksheet on determining whether an employer is subject to the H-1B and L-1 fee increases is included below.
 
Related Items 
[photo1L] Goel & Anderson Immigration Alert and Preliminary Worksheet
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Fri, 13 Aug 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Issues Memo on Itinerary Gaps for O-1 Visa Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_issues_memo_on_itinerary_gaps_for_o-1_visa_petitions http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1095 07/20/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a final Policy Memorandum and revision to its Adjudicator's Field Manual clarifying its interpretation of the term "event" as it relates to O-1 visa validity periods.  The new policy is intended to guide USCIS adjudicators in determining the appropriate validity period when a gap exists between two or more events reflected in the O-1 itinerary, and should thus permit gaps between O-1 itinerary events where multiple appearances are related in such a way that they would be considered an "event" for purposes of the validity period.
USCIS notes, "The validity dates for the O-1 visa classification are defined by the specific period of time required to perform or participate in a specific event(s). When reviewing an O-1 petition, the length of time between the scheduled events, also known as a "gap," has sometimes been viewed as a gauge to determine whether an itinerary represented one continuous "event" or separate events requiring separate petitions."  Acknowledging that this older interpretation has no basis in law, the agency added, "In certain cases where there has been a significant "gap" between events, adjudicators have sometimes concluded that a single petition was filed for separate events rather than a continuous event. In such cases, the petition may have been approved only for a validity period equal to the length of time needed to accomplish what appeared to be the initial specific event rather than the continuous event as represented by the petition. There is no statutory or regulatory authority for the proposition that a gap of a certain number of days in an itinerary automatically indicates a new event. The regulations speak in terms of tours and multiple appearances as meeting the "event" definition."
A copy of the new USCIS O-1 visa Policy Memorandum is available below.
 
Related Items
[photo1L]USCIS Policy Memorandum on O-1 Itinerary Gaps
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Tue, 20 Jul 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Confirms Shuffle of CSC Leadership http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_shuffles_csc_leadership http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1092 July 14, 2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today confirmed a realignment of leadership at its California Service Center (CSC).
Director Alejandro Mayorkas has appointed Rosemary Langley Melville, currently the Acting Regional Director in the Southeast Region, as the new Director of the CSC, where she will assume her new responsibilities in late August.
Barbara Velarde, currently Deputy Associate Director for Service Center Operations at USCIS headquarters in Washington, D.C., has assumed the role of Acting Director of the CSC, while John Kramar, the current District Director of USCIS' Phoenix office, will now serve as the Acting Deputy Director of the CSC.
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Wed, 14 Jul 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Extends Haitian TPS Registration http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_extends_haitian_tps http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1093 July 14, 2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that eligible Haitian nationals will have an additional 180 days to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a relief program launched in response to the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti earlier this year. The new registration deadline is Jan. 18, 2011.
"Since the earthquake, USCIS has maintained an ongoing dialogue with Haitian community leaders and advocates, and we have heard that many Haitians need more time to apply for TPS," said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. "Extending the registration period will afford more eligible individuals a chance to remain safely in the United States at this time of crisis and devastation in Haiti."
TPS registration permits eligible Haitian nationals to continue living in the United States and to obtain work authorization for the duration of the program. Since the TPS program began, USCIS has conducted extensive outreach to communicate its important benefits and to provide clear information about the application process. USCIS continues to encourage eligible Haitians to apply for TPS as soon as possible before the January 18, 2011, registration deadline. Waivers of the application fees are available to those who can demonstrate an inability to pay.
In conversations with the public, USCIS has heard many reasons that eligible individuals have not yet applied for TPS. Due to the devastation in Haiti, some individuals may have had difficulty obtaining documents needed for the TPS application process. Others may need further opportunity to gather funds for the application fees or to learn about the process for fee waivers. Extending the registration period will provide those individuals with additional time needed to prepare their applications.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano designated Haiti for TPS for an 18-month period beginning on January 21, 2010. The designation applies to Haitians who have continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2010, when the earthquake occurred; Haitian nationals who first entered the United States after that date are not eligible.
TPS applicants must submit both the Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to register. Applicants must pay the Form I-821 fee. Applicants age 14 and older must also submit the biometric service fee. Applicants who are age 14 through 65 who request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) must pay the Form I-765 fee. Applicants under age 14 or over age 65 who request an EAD do not need to pay the Form I-765 fee. If an individual is only seeking to register for TPS, the applicant must still file Form I-765 for data-gathering purposes, but the Form I-765 fee is not required. Applicants who can demonstrate an inability to pay may request a fee waiver for any of these fees. Failure to submit the required applications with any required fees and the biometric fee, or a properly documented fee waiver request, will result in the rejection of the application. For information on TPS fee waivers, please visit the "Questions and Answers: Requesting Waiver of Fees Temporary Protected Status Applicants" webpage.
Further details on the designation of TPS for Haiti, including the application requirements and procedures, are available at www.uscis.gov on the TPS page under Haiti's designation and in the Federal Register Notices published on Jan. 21, 2010 and today.
TPS forms are available online or by calling the toll-free USCIS Forms line, 1-800-870-3676. For more information on USCIS humanitarian programs, visit www.uscis.gov or call 1-800-375-5283.
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Wed, 14 Jul 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
August 2010 Visa Bulletin Shows Priority Date Advancements http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/august_2010_visa_bulletin_shows_priority_date_advancements http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1090 07/13/2010
The U.S. Department of State's August 2010 Visa Bulletin shows marked improvement for most employment-based and family-based visa preference categories.
Notably, there has been better than expected improvement for Chinese and Indian nationals in the second employment-based preference (EB-2) category. On August 1, 2010, EB-2 priority date cut-offs will advance to March 1, 2006 for both countries. This represents an improvement of five months for Indian nationals, and an improvement of three and a half months for Chinese nationals.
Improvements in the third employment-based preference (EB-3) category for Profesionals and Skilled Workers are also significant, with most countries improving by nine and a half months.  Regrettably, however, the improvements in the EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers category are not as dramatic for Chinese and Indian nationals, although those priority date cut-offs will advance moderately to September 22, 2003 for China and to January 1, 2002 for India.
Similarly, there have been very significant improvements for family-based preference categories, with advancements of several months in each of the preference categories.
The Department of State anticipates continued but modest improvements to immigrant visa priority dates through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2010, ending September 30, 2010, although it cautions that these predictions are estimates only, and immigrant visa availability could change with fluctuations in demand. Thus, unexpected retrogression or unavailability in a category is a continued possibility before the end of the fiscal year.
A copy of the complete August 2010 Visa Bulletin is attached below.
 
Related Items
[photo1L]August 2010 Visa Bulletin
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Tue, 13 Jul 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CIS Ombudsman Issues Annual Report for 2010 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cis_ombudsman_issues_2010_annual_report http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1091 07/13/2010
The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman has issued its Annual Report to Congress, focusing on the most pervasive and serious problems encountered by individuals and employers in their dealings with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Key issues highlighted in the 2010 Annual Report include:

Declining USCIS Receipts and Revenues: USCIS is facing declining receipts and declining revenue, although this presents the agency with both challenges and opportunities;

USCIS Modernization: The Transformation Initiative is underway, but antiquated technology and case management systems hinder USCIS' ability to provide efficient and transparent service, while the public waits to see tangible results of this critical initiative;

Requests for Evidence (RFE): USCIS customers continue to express concern with the lack of standardization in adjudications, along with complaints about an adjudications process marked by unnecessary, inappropriate, overly-broad, or unduly labor-intensive Requests for Evidence (RFEs). The Ombudsman reviews and makes recommendations on RFE issues in the H-1B Specialty Occupation and L-1 Intracompany Transferee categories;

Customer Service and Public Inquiries: USCIS has bolstered its outreach, establishing an Office of Public Engagement to proactively seek public feedback on USCIS policy issues and new initiatives, but USCIS' National Customer Service Center toll-free telephone line continues to be a major source of frustration as many customers are unable to correct service errors or receive meaningful information from USCIS call centers.
Additional issues examined in the Annual Report are:

Military Immigration Issues
Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs)
International Adoptions
Separation of Derivatives/Principals
USCIS Adjudications for Individuals in ImmigrationCourt Proceedings
Form N-648 (Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions)
Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
As an independent office that reports directly to the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, the CIS Ombudsman's mission is to assist individuals and employers in resolving problems with USCIS, identify areas in which individuals and employers have problems in dealing with USCIS, and propose changes to mitigate identified problems.
A copy of the complete CIS Ombudsman's 2010 Annual Report can be accessed below.
 
Related Items
[photo1L]CIS Ombudsman's 2010 Annual Report (3.5 MB)
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Tue, 13 Jul 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S. Government Challenges Arizona S.B. 1070 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._government_files_arizona_la http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1088 07/06/2010
The United States Department of Justice challenged the state of Arizona’s recently passed immigration law, S.B. 1070, in federal court today.  
In a brief filed in the District of Arizona, the Department said S.B. 1070 unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy, explaining that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.”  A patchwork of state and local policies would seriously disrupt federal immigration enforcement.  Having enacted its own immigration policy that conflicts with federal immigration law, Arizona “crossed a constitutional line.” 
A copy of the U.S. Department of Justice's press release announcing the lawsuit is attached below.
 
Related Items
[photo2L]DOJ Press Release Announcing U.S. v. Arizona Lawsuit
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Tue, 06 Jul 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Count Thru 6/11 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_h-1b_cap_count_jun http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1087 06/15/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that as of June 11, 2010, it has received an overall total of 31,600 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 22,200 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 9,400 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
USCIS notes that it "continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) cap," and that it "will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption."
Goel & Anderson will provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.]]>
Tue, 15 Jun 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
FY2011 H-2B Cap Update from USCIS http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/fy2011_h-2b_cap_update_from_uscis http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1086 05/27/2010
USCIS has announced that as of May 21, 2010, it has received 26,422 H-2B visa petitions counted toward its target of 47,000 "beneficiaries" allocated for the second half of fiscal year 2011. This count includes 25,178 approved and 1,244 pending H-2B visa petitions.
The "beneficiaries" target is the estimated number of petitions needed to reach the cap of 33,000 petitions for each half of the fiscal year. The number of approved beneficiaries under the H-2B cap will always be higher than the actual cap since a large number of approved H-1B beneficiaries never apply for entry to the United States or are included in more than one petition.
A copy of USCIS' announcement and more information on the H-2B visa program is available in the related items attached below.
 
Related Items
[photo1L] USCIS Info on H-2B Visas and Cap Count
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Thu, 27 May 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Issues Updated H-1B Cap Count http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_issues_updates_h-1b_cap_count http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1085 05/26/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that as of May 21, 2010, it has received an overall total of 27,800 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap.
This total is comprised of 19,600 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 8,200 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
USCIS notes that it "continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) cap," and that it "will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption."Goel & Anderson will provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
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Wed, 26 May 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Eliminates I-94W for Visa Waiver Travelers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_eliminates_i-94w_for_visa_waiver_travelers http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1077 05/20/2010
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the elimination of the paper Form I-94W Arrival/Departure record for authorized travelers from nations participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The DHS press release (below) includes information on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which presumably made the paper-based I-94W unnecessary.
 
Related Items
[photo3L]   DHS Press Release on Elimination of I-94W
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Thu, 20 May 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Proposes NIV and BCC Fee Increase http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dos_proposes_niv_and_bcc_fee_increase http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1078 05/20/2010
The Department of State (DOS) has proposed a rule to amend the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services (Schedule) for nonimmigrant visa and border crossing card application processing fees. Under the proposed rule, the fee charged for the processing of an application for most non-petition-based nonimmigrant visas (Machine-Readable Visas or MRVs) and adult Border Crossing Cards (BCCs) will increase from the current fee of $131 to $140.
The rule also provides new tiers of the application fee for certain categories of petition- based nonimmigrant visas and treaty trader and investor visas (all of which are also MRVs). Finally, the rule increases the $13 BCC fee charged to Mexican citizen minors who apply in Mexico, and whose parent or guardian already has a BCC or is applying for one, by raising that fee to $14 by virtue of a congressionally mandated surcharge that went into effect in 2009.
The Department of State is adjusting the fees to ensure that sufficient resources are available to meet the costs of providing consular services in light of an independent cost of service study's findings that the U.S. Government is not fully covering its costs for the processing of these visas under the current cost structure. Eighty-one comments were received during the period for public comment, and this rule also addresses a comment received about a prior change to the MRV fee implemented on January 1, 2008. This rule addresses comments received thus far, and reopens the comment period on these fees for an additional 60 days.
A copy of the proposed rule and information on submitting a comment is included below.
 
Related Items
 
[photo1L]  DOS Proposed Rule on NIV and BCC Fee Increase (courtesy of AILA)
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Thu, 20 May 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
FY2011 H-1B Cap Update from USCIS http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/fy2011_h-1b_cap_update_uscis http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1079 05/18/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that as of May 14, 2010, it has received a total of 27,100 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap. This total is comprised of 19,000 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 8,100 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
USCIS notes that it "continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) cap," and that it "will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption."
Goel & Anderson will provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.
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Tue, 18 May 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Unveils New H-1B "LCA Policy" Mailbox http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_unveils_new_h-1b_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1080 05/17/2010
The Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification has established a dedicated email address for questions regarding H-1B Labor Condition Application (LCA) policies.
Those seeking guidance related to DOL policies involving the LCA (Form ETA 9035E) should submit a question to LCA.Regulation@dol.gov. Although the policy mailbox will accept any question on LCA policy, users should not expect an immediate reply to their queries. Instead, questions will be answered in the form of periodic FAQs issued by DOL.
DOL advises that all general inquiries regarding the H-1B program should be directed to its Chicago National Processing Center at LCA.Chicago@dol.gov. For iCERT technical issues, questions should continue to be submitted to mailtoOFLC.Portal@dol.gov.
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Mon, 17 May 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Creates "Online Advisor" for H-1B Compliance http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_creates_h-1b_online_advisor http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1081 05/14/2010
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today unveiled a new tool to help employers and others understand how to comply with requirements under the H-1B visa program. DOL's new "Online Advisor" tool describes the program's standards and provides detailed information about employers' and workers' rights and responsibilities. It outlines notification requirements, monetary issues, worksite issues, recordkeeping, worker protections and enforcement.
Although responsibilities for the H-1B visa program are shared among the Labor Department's Office of Foreign Labor Certification and Wage and Hour Division, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State, the new advisor tool focuses on compliance with the many requirements enforced by DOL's Wage and Hour Division (WHD). 
Contrary to crtics' vocal and ongoing claims of lax enforcement, WHD has been aggressively investigating allegations of H-1B fraud, wage violations, worker displacement, and other malfeasance by H-1B employers for many years.  Combined with strong new investigative measures and site visits implemented by USCIS, H-1B and Labor Condition Application (LCA) compliance issues have clearly taken on priority status for the DHS and DOL components involved in immigration-related enforcement measures.
A copy of DOL's news release and a link to the "online advisor" tool appear below.
 
Related Items
 
[photo2L] DOL Press Release on H-1B Online Advisor
 
DOL "Online Advisor" for H-1B Employers and Employees
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Fri, 14 May 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces Redesigned Green Card http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_redesigned_green_card http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1076 05/11/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has redesigned the Permanent Resident Card - commonly known as the "Green Card" - to incorporate several major new security features. The Green Card redesign is the latest advance in USCIS’s ongoing efforts to deter immigration fraud. State-of-the-art technology incorporated into the new card prevents counterfeiting, obstructs tampering, and facilitates quick and accurate authentication. Beginning today, USCIS will issue all Green Cards in the new, more secure format. 
The documents below (news release, FAQ and Fact Sheet) include information on the features of the new, more secure card.
USCIS notes that it strongly encourages anyone who holds a permanent resident card without an expiration date to apply to replace their card with the redesigned version. USCIS is also asking employers to ensure that they are familiar with the new card as employees may be presenting this version as evidence of identity and employment authorization in relation to Form I-9 and/or E-Verify employment eligibility verification.
 
Related Materials

 USCIS Press Release on redesigned Green Card
 USCIS Q&A on redesigned Green Card
 USCIS Fact Sheet on new Green Card
 USCIS Info on Security Features and Laser Engraving of new Green Card]]>
Tue, 11 May 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
H-1B Cap Count Update Through 4/23/2010 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-1b_cap_count_update_4-23 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1074 04/30/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that as of April 23, 2010, it has received a total of 22,764 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap. The total is comprised of 16,025 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 6,739 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
USCIS notes that it "continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) cap," and that it "will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption."
Goel & Anderson will provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.]]>
Fri, 30 Apr 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Updates FY2011 H-1B Cap Count http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_update_fy2011_h-1b_cap_count http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1073 04/23/2010
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that as of April 15, 2010, it has received a total of 19,400 H-1B filings counted toward the fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) H-1B cap. The total is comprised of 13,600 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 5,800 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
USCIS notes that it "continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) cap," and that it "will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption."
Goel & Anderson will provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.]]>
Fri, 23 Apr 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CBP Advisory on Overstay Due to Icelandic Volcano http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cbp_advisory_on_overstay_due_to_icelandic_volcano http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1075 04/17/2010
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued an advisory to travelers whose timely departure from the United States is affected by the flight delays caused by the volcanic eruptions in Iceland that have disrupted air travel.
The text of the CBP advisory reads as follows:

If you or someone you know is stranded in the United States because of the airport closures in Europe due to the Icelandic volcano eruption and is about to exceed their authorized stay as a direct result of these closures, there are two avenues for relief:
If the traveler is at the airport and traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and unable to depart timely, as a result of airport closures or flight delays/cancellations, travelers should:

Contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office at the airport or;
Contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.
Both agencies have provided staff with guidance on the applicable legal authorities under the VWP in circumstances such as these.
If persons are traveling under a visa, they should contact the nearest USCIS office and follow the instructions at the following link: ( USCIS - Extend My Stay )
While this link recommends initiating the process 45 days in advance, USCIS is providing guidance on how to handle these cases over this weekend.
Travelers should continue to contact their airline for information about flight schedules, delays and cancellations. If airlines have questions about the situation, they can contact their Regional Carrier Liaison Group (RCLG). The Miami RCLG can be reached at (305) 874-5444.]]>
Sat, 17 Apr 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Issues First Official H-1B Cap Count for FY2011 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_issues_first_official_h-1b_cap_count_for_fy2011 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1072 04/09/2010
Now that a full week has passed since the opening of the filing period for cap-subject H-1B visa petitions, USCIS has finally issued its first official tally of the number of filings received toward the FY2011 H-1B visa cap.
The immigration agency has announced that as of April 8, 2010, it has received a total of 19,100 H-1B filings at its two designated filing locations. The total is comprised of 13,500 filings allocated to the "general" H-1B cap and another 5,600 filings applied to the "Advanced Degree" cap that is reserved for visa beneficiaries who have earned a master's degree or higher from an accredited educational institution in the U.S.
USCIS notes that it "continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) cap," and that it "will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master's degree or higher educational exemption."
The one week total of 19,100 filings represents the lowest number of H-1B cases filed in the initial days of the filing period in the past several years. In fact, the current total represents a drop of almost 55% as compared to the same period last year, when 42,000 filings were received toward the FY2010 H-1B cap in the first week. Over the same period, the FY2011 count reflects a staggering 88% reduction as compared to FY2009 H-1B cap filings, when 163,000 petitions flooded into USCIS in just two days.
Goel & Anderson will provide regular updates on H-1B usage as they become available.]]>
Fri, 09 Apr 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
FY2011 H-1B Cap: USCIS' VSC Issues First Count http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/fy2011_h1b_cap_usage_numbers http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1071 04/08/2010
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is reporting that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Vermont Service Center (VSC) has indicated it received a total of 9,525 cap-subject H-1B petitions as of the close of business on Monday, April 5, 2010.  It should be noted that these preliminary numbers do not include H-1B cap-subject cases received by the California Service Center (CSC).
Of the 9,525 petitions received by the VSC, 6,791 were applied against the "regular" H-1B cap, and 2,734 were applied against the "Advanced Degree" cap.
The VSC further noted that all cases received before April 7, 2010, will be assigned an April 7, 2010 receipt date, but cases received thereafter will bear the actual receipt date.
Again, please note that the VSC numbers cited above do not include cases filed at the CSC, which has not yet disclosed the number of cases it received.  Under USCIS' bi-specialization initiative, H-1B cap-subject cases are filed with the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the actual work location where an H-1B nonimmigrant will be employed.  In practice, this tends to result in the VSC and CSC receiving similar numbers of cases.  Assuming this holds true, the combined number of cases received by the VSC and CSC through the same date (April 5, 2010) should total approximately 20,000 cases--although this is mere speculation at this stage.
Goel & Anderson will continue to provide H-1B cap usage information on its website as additional information becomes available.]]>
Thu, 08 Apr 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Greek Citizens Soon Eligible for Visa Waiver Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/greek_citizens_eligible_for_travel_under_visa_waiver_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1069 03/31/2010
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced that as of April 5, 2010, citizens of Greece will be permitted to make temporary business and tourist visits to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This action implements Greece's entry into the VWP program, which officially occurred on March 9, 2010.
Pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program, eligible foreign nationals from member countries may enter the United States for business or tourism for up to 90 days without obtaining a B-1/B-2 visitor visa from a U.S. consulate. Under the VWP, travelers must hold an "e-Passport" containing an integrated computer chip that stores the traveler's biographic data, digital photograph and other information, and they must obtain an approval to travel from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before departing for the United States. ESTA applications should be completed at least 72 hours prior to the scheduled travel time, and can be submitted online through the ESTA web portal. Travelers who are ineligible for the Visa Waiver Program must apply for a visitor visa to enter the United States for business or tourism. Additional information about eligibility requirements for business and tourist visas and travel under the VWP is available in the Visitor Visas section of Goel & Anderson's website.
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Wed, 31 Mar 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1067 03/17/2010
DHS and USCIS announced three new initiatives to strengthen the efficiency and accuracy of the E-Verifysystem. The initiatives include an agreement with the Department of Justice to streamline the adjudication process in cases of E-Verify misuse and discrimination; a telephone hotline for workers seeking E-Verify information; and new training videos focusing on E-Verify procedures, employee rights, and employer responsibilities in English and Spanish.
 
 DHS - USCIS E-Verify Announcement]]>
Sun, 28 Mar 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Issues Updated Prevailing Wage FAQ http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_issues_updated_prevailing_wage_faq http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1063 03/26/2010
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued an updated set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on prevailing wage issues.  This updated document replaces guidance issued in December 2009.
 
 DOL FAQs on Prevailing Wages (March 2010)
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Fri, 26 Mar 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Neufeld Memo Fallout - USCIS to Hold "Listening Session" http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/neufeld_memo_fallout_-_uscis_to_hold_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1065 3/23/2010
USCIS has announced that it will hold a Listening Session related to the January 8, 2010 Neufeld Memo on H-1B Employer-Employee Relationships that has caused much confusion and consternation in the employer community.
The session, titled "Implications of H-1B Memo on Healthcare Industry," will take place on March 26, 2010.  USCIS is inviting medical professionals and legal practitioners who assist medical professionals to participate in the listening session, and has indicated that it is "interested in hearing feedback and input on the impact this guidance may have on the staffing model employed by the healthcare industry."  Goel & Anderson attorneys are planning to participate and offer USCIS feedback based on our experiences and those of our clients.
USCIS's meeting invitation, along with registration formation is included below.
 USCIS Invitation to Listening Session
 
 Neufeld Memo on H-1B Employer-Employee Relationship
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Tue, 23 Mar 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Changes Form I-131 Filing Location http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_changes_form_i-131_filing_location_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1064 03/23/2010
USCIS announced a change of filing location for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.  Beginning March 19, 2010, applicants will file their applications at the USCIS Vermont Service Center or at one of the USCIS Lockbox facilities.
 
 USCIS Announcement on Form I-131 Filing Location
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Tue, 23 Mar 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senators Outline Immigration Reform Plan http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/schumer_graham_immigration_refor http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1066 03/19/2010
U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) outlined their vision for an immigration policy plan in The Washington Post.  The plan is a likely guidepost on what should be expected in a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) proposal that is likely to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
As described by Senators Schumer and Graham, their version of CIR will include biometric Social Security cards, border security and interior enforcement, a process for admitting temporary workers and a path to legalization for those already here.
See Article
 
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Fri, 19 Mar 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS and USCIS Announce New E-Verify Initiatives http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_and_uscis_announce_new_e-verify_initiatives http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1068 3/17/2010
DHS and USCIS announced three new initiatives to strengthen the efficiency and accuracy of the E-Verify system. The initiatives include an agreement with the Department of Justice to streamline the adjudication process in cases of E-Verify misuse and discrimination; a telephone hotline for workers seeking E-Verify information; and new training videos focusing on E-Verify procedures, employee rights, and employer responsibilities in English and Spanish.
 DHS - USCIS E-Verify Announcement]]>
Wed, 17 Mar 2010 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
H-1B Count Update as of November 20, 2009 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-1b_count_update_for_november_20%2C_2009_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1031 H-1B Count Update for November 20, 2009

 

Nov 25 2009

This week, USCIS published an update of the number of H-1B cap-subject petitions they have received for Fiscal Year 2010. As of November 20, 2009, the federal agency has received approximately 56,900 H-1B cap-subject petitions. USCIS has already approved enough H-1B petitions for foreign nationals with advanced degrees to meet the target total of 20,000 visas allotted for petitioners that meet the advanced degree cap exemption. All H-1B petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals, regardless of whether the nationals meet the requirements of the advanced degree cap exemption, will now count toward the general cap of 65,000.

USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions until it has received a “sufficient” number of these petitions to reach the mandate-defined limits of the visa program. This takes into consideration that some petitions received will be denied, revoked or withdrawn from consideration.

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Mon, 30 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Four USCIS Programs Extended Until 2012 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/four_uscis_programs_extended_until_2012_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1032 Four USCIS Programs Extended Until 2012

 

Nov 24 2009

In late October, President Obama singed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010, extending certain USCIS programs until September 30, 2012. Programs that have been extended until 2012 include the E-Verify program, the Immigrant Investor (EB-5) Pilot Program, and the special immigrant visa category for non-minister religions workers.

The law also extends the “Conrad 30” program. The “Conrad 30” program allows each state health department to submit requests directly to the Department of State to start the waiver process for foreign medical graduates who have obtained J-1 status to change or adjust to another status without meeting the required two-year foreign residence period. Prior to this recent extension, the law applied to foreign medical graduates that acquired J-1 status before September 30, 2009; today, that law has been extended to cover those that receive J-1 status prior to September 30, 2010.

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Tue, 24 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes Updated Count of H-1B Petitions Received http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_h-1b_count http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=289
 

Nov 19 2009

USCIS has just published another update of the number of H-1B cap-subject petitions they have received for Fiscal Year 2010. As of November 13, 2009, the federal agency has received approximately 55,600 H-1B cap-subject petitions. USCIS has, as of this date, approved enough H-1B petitions for foreign nationals with advanced degrees to meet the target total of 20,000 visas allotted for petitioners that meet the advanced degree cap exemption. All H-1B petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals, regardless of whether the nationals meet the requirements of the advanced degree cap exemption, will count toward the general cap of 65,000.

USCIS comments that it will continue to accept H-1B petitions until it has received a “sufficient” number of these petitions to reach the mandate-defined limits of the visa program, with the understanding that a certain percentage of petitions received will be denied, revoked or withdrawn from consideration.

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Thu, 19 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Conducting 25,000 Site Inspections of H-1B Employers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_conducting_25%2C000_site_inspections_of_h-1b_employers http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=290 USCIS Conducting 25,000 Site Inspections of H-1B Employers

 

Nov 17 2009

In response to a study conducted last year that found cases of fraud and other infringements in one out of every five H-1B applications, USCIS is stepping up its enforcement of the skilled worker program. This fiscal year, federal inspectors plan to conduct 25,000 on-site inspections of U.S. companies that have hired foreign workers under the H-1B program. This is five times as many inspections as there were last fiscal year.

In a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas commented that the inspections of companies began in July of this year. The program, according to Mayorkas, determines “whether the location of employment actually exists and if a beneficiary is employed at the location specified, performing the duties as described, and paid the salary as identified in the petition.”

This new enforcement initiative has been implemented in tandem with an increase in demands for detailed documentation for foreign worker applications from USCIS.

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Tue, 17 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS to Allow Uncertified LCAs with Some H-1B Applications http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_allow_uncertified_lcas_with_some_h-1b_applications http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=291 USCIS to Allow Uncertified LCAs with H-1B Applications in Limited Situations 

Nov 13 2009

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last week that they are implementing a 120-day period in which they will accept H-1B petitions filed without Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) certified by the Department of Labor (DOL).

USCIS has made this amendment to their regulations after receiving requests from members of the public asking them to allow acceptance of H-1B petition filings that include LCAs that have been filed with, but not yet certified by DOL. DOL’s implementation of the iCERT system has resulted in an increase in processing delays for certain LCA certifications. Certain employers and beneficiaries have been negatively affected by these increased processing times, limiting their ability to file H-1B petitions with USCIS in a timely fashion.

In order to accommodate those affected by processing delays of LCAs, USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions with uncertified LCAs on November 5, 2009 and will continue to accept these until March 4, 2010. However, USCIS will only accept such H-1B petitions if they are filed at least seven calendar days after the LCAs were filed with DOL and only if the petitioner provides evidence of this filing.

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Fri, 13 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS to Collect Biometrics from Travelers Exiting the U.S. http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_to_collect_biometrics_from_travelers_exiting_the_u.s. http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=292 DHS Finalizing Plan to Collect Biometrics from Travelers Exiting the U.S.

 

Nov 10 2009

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is finishing up its proposal to collect either fingerprints or eye scans from all international travelers at U.S. airports as the travelers leave the U.S. This new plan, which would be in effect in two years, would enable the U.S. government to track the 35 million international visitors that leave the country each year, including visitors who may have overstayed their visas. DHS expects the proposal will be submitted to the White House for review and approval by next month.

The proposal has caused concern, especially from those in the airline industry. Originally, the program would have required airlines to pay for the majority of the costs of the program; however, DHS now says it may remove that requirement. The program is expected to cost between $1 and $2 billion over a ten year period; a large portion of the costs will most likely now be paid by taxpayers and international travelers. Additionally, the program would not track international visitors leaving the U.S. at land borders, because of additional costs and associated delays in commerce and transactions. Eighty percent of international travelers depart the U.S. from land borders.

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Tue, 10 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Updates FY2010 H-1B Cap Count http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_fy2010_h-1b_cap_count http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=293 USCIS Updates FY2010 H-1B Cap Count

 

Nov 8 2009

USCIS recently posted an update of the number of H-1B petitions the federal agency has received. As of October 25, 2009, roughly 52,800 H-1B cap-subject petitions and 20,000 H-1B petitions that qualify for the advanced degree cap exemption have been filed with USCIS. A total of 65,000 H-1B visas are available for this fiscal year under the current annual cap limitations. USCIS comments that it will continue to accept cap-subject and advanced degree petitions until it has received enough H-1B petitions to fulfill the limits posed by regulations.

In previous years, USCIS received large amounts of H-1B petitions. In many cases the agency stopped accepting these petitions days or weeks after the initial acceptance date. This year, however, due to the economic recession, the amount of filed petitions is much lower. On April 17, 2009, in their first public notification about this year’s H-1B program, USCIS announced they had received roughly 43,000 H-1B petitions and 20,000 that qualified for the advanced degree cap exemption.

 

 

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Sun, 08 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Video on SAVE Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_video_to_explain_systematic_alien_verification_f http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=294 USCIS Posts Video to Explain Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program

 

Nov 7 2009

USCIS launched a new video on its Web site this week that provides a review of the federal agency’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program. The new video, available online at www.uscis.gov/SAVE, describes the process of immigration status verification and, additionally, provides information about how federal, state and local agencies (that provide benefits) can apply for participation in the SAVE program.

SAVE is a program that helps benefit-granting agencies determine an applicant’s immigration status. SAVE ensures that only applicants with a verifiable immigration status receive federal, state, or local public benefits and licenses. SAVE checks applicants’ immigration status against millions of recorded federal database records. Over 300 agencies have enrolled in the SAVE program, to date.

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Sat, 07 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Extends Grace Period for Old Versions of Form G-28 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_grace_period_for_old_g-2 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=295 USCIS Extends Grace Period for Previous Versions of Form G-28

 

Nov 4 2009

USCIS form G-28, the Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, was updated by USCIS on April 22, 2009. At that time, the form contained an ‘N’ designation; this means that no previous editions of the form will be accepted. However, USCIS has decided to extend the grace period for accepting previous versions of Form G-28, while it continues to refine the current version of the form.

USCIS expects to complete the revision of its current form shortly. Until that time, the federal agency will not reject filings submitted with older versions of the form.

The April 22 version of Form G-28 is available for download at the following URL:

http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/New%20Structure/2nd%20Level%20(Left%20Nav%20Parents)/Forms%20-%202nd%20Level/Forms%20Static%20Files/g-28.pdf

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Wed, 04 Nov 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
HIV Can No Longer be Sole Grounds for Inadmissibility http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/hiv_not_ground_for_inadmissibili http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=296 New Final Rule: HIV Infection No Longer Sole Grounds for Inadmissibility to U.S.

 

Oct 31 2009

In the Federal Register, dated Monday, November 2, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will officially remove HIV infection from the definition of "communicable disease of public health significance” and will additionally remove any reference to HIV from the scope of examinations for aliens wishing to enter the U.S.

Prior to this final rule, HIV infection was considered a communicable disease of public health significance by CDC; individuals that tested positive for the infection during the required medical examination for U.S. immigration were inadmissible to the United States. However, effective January 4, 2010, as stated in this final rule, such individuals will no longer be inadmissible to the United States solely on the ground that they are infected.

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Sat, 31 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Homeland Security Publishes Final Rule for the Secure Flight http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/homeland_security_publishes_final_rule_for_the_secure_flight http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=403 Homeland Security Publishes Final Rule for the Secure Flight Program

 

Oct 29 2008

Late last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the publication of the final rule for the Secure Flight program, an endeavor that would shift the responsibility of matching pre-departure watch lists from individual aircraft operators to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). These changes were suggested by the 9/11 Commission.

TSA believes that, by shifting this responsibility to their organization, they can do a more effective job of solving issues related to misidentifications of valid travelers, when those travelers’ names are similar to names found on the watch list.

"Secure Flight is a critical tool that will further improve aviation security and fix the major customer service issue of watch list misidentifications, a frustratingly common occurrence for travelers under the existing airline-based system," said Michael Chertoff, secretary of DHS. "We know that threats to our aviation system persist, and Secure Flight will help us better protect the traveling public while creating a more consistent passenger prescreening process, ultimately reducing the number of misidentification issues."

Under the Secure Flight program, airlines will be required to collect passengers’ full names, dates of birth and gender when those passengers are making their flight reservations. These addition data collected will assist TSA in parsing valid travelers from those on the watch list.

The Secure Flight program, according to TSA, will be implemented in two pages. In early 2009, TSA will begin taking over matching responsibilities from the airlines for passengers traveling domestically. In late 2009, TSA will take over matching responsibilities for travelers coming to the U.S. on international flights.

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Thu, 29 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CBP Launches FOIA Electronic Reading Room http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cbp_launches_foia_electronic_reading_room_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=297 CBP Launches FOIA Electronic Reading Room

 

Oct 27 2009

A newly upgraded web-based reading room has just been launched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The CBP Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room will feature a range of documents and records that, prior to the launch of this upgraded service, were only available via an FOIA request. Documents included in the FOIA Electronic Reading Room include final opinions and orders related to the adjudication of administrative cases, certain agency policy statements, specific administrative staff manuals and other records that have been disclosed in response to an FOIA request.

“CBP is striving to boost agency transparency and accountability, while promoting efficiency and effectiveness through the use of technology,” said Jayson P. Ahern, Acting Commissioner of CBP. “We hope the public will visit the Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room for the most direct access to information and to avoid the need to go through the FOIA request process.”

Visit the FOIA Electronic Reading Room online at foia.cbp.gov.

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Tue, 27 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Revises Form I-601 for Waiver of Inadmissibility http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_revises_form_i-601_for_waiver_of_inadmissibility http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=298 USCIS Revises Form I-601, the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility Oct 25 2009 USCIS has just revised Form I-601, the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility in order to make the form easier for applicants to complete. In the new form, applicants can select from a list of grounds of inadmissibility presented on the form itself, and can mark all grounds that apply in order to request a waiver. Additionally, the form also includes a section where applicants can describe in their own narrative the reasons why they believe they are inadmissible. Previously, information about grounds of inaccessibility could only be found in the form’s accompanying instructions. The new Form I-601, and its instructions, are available at the USCIS website. USCIS additionally notes that filing fees may be waived in individual cases when an individual is unable to pay, only in instances where the individual is either an alien in valid T or U nonimmigrant status, an approved VAWA self-petitioner, or an alien seeking adjustment of status to whom section 212(a)(4) does not apply (this alien is not required to prove that he or she is not likely to become a public charge). ]]> Sun, 25 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Roxana Bacon named USCIS Chief Counsel http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/roxana_bacon_named_uscis_chief_counsel http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=299 Roxana Bacon, a Well-Respected Immigration Attorney, Is the New Chief Counsel for USCIS

 

Oct 21 2009

Roxana Bacon, a well-respected immigration attorney, has just been named Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. Bacon was formerly based in Arizona and is widely respected in the immigration legal community. She was the first woman to serve as president of the State Bar of Arizona and was formerly General Counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Bacon received the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award in 2009 and is an endowed professor of immigration law and policy at Arizona Law School.

In her new post, Bacon will manage more than 150 attorneys and their staff and will play a key role in the development of immigration policies and major immigration reform initiatives in the coming years.

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Wed, 21 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Changes Filing Location for Orphan/Adoption Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/_uscis_changes_filing_location_for_orphan%2Fadoption_petitions http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=301  

USCIS Posts Filing Location Changes for Orphan/Adoption Petitions

 

Oct 15 2009

Last week, USCIS announced a change in filing locations for two sets of forms. The first set, Form I-600, the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and Form I-600A, the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, should now be sent to the following addresses:

Regular Mail: USCIS, P.O. Box 299027, Lewisville, TX 75029

Express Mail/Courier Service: USCIS, ATTN: Adoption, 2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067

This change of filing location was published on October 6; applicants will have a 30-day transition period. After that period, USCIS will return all of these forms that are incorrectly filed.

The second set of forms, Form I-800, the Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and Form I-800A, the Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, both related to the Hague Adoption Convention, should now be filed to the following addresses:

Regular Mail: USCIS, P.O. Box 299008, Lewisville, TX 75029

Express Mail/Courier Service: USCIS, ATTN: Hague, 2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067

This address change also went effective on October 6; applicants are given a 30-day transition period to correctly file these petitions before they will be returned as incorrectly filed.

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Thu, 15 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
President Obama Publishes FY 2010 Refugee Numbers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/president_obama_publishes_fy_2010_refugee_numbers_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=302 President Obama Publishes FY 2010 Refugee Numbers

 

Oct 14 2009

In a Presidential Document, written on the last day of September of this year and published in the Federal Register yesterday, the President provided guidance to the Secretary of State to provide for the admission of up to 80,000 refugees to the U.S. during Fiscal Year 2010. The President’s publication allocated certain amounts of refugee numbers to each region of the world, as stated below:

Africa: 15,500
East Asia: 17,000
Europe and Central Asia: 2,500
Latin America/Caribbean: 5,000
Near East/South Asia: 35,000
Unallocated Reserve: 5,000

The unallocated refugee numbers are to be “allocated to regional ceilings, as needed,” wrote the President, and are to be used in regions where the need for additional refugee admissions occurs. Further, refugee numbers can be moved from one region to one or more other regions, when greater numbers for admission are needed in those other regions.

Finally, the President specified that, for Fiscal Year 2010, individuals from the following countries, if otherwise qualified, can “be considered refugees for the purpose of admission to the United States within their countries of nationality or habitual residence:”

(1)People in Cuba
(2)People in the former Soviet Union
(3)People in Iraq

In exceptional cases, people identified by a U.S. Embassy in any location may also be considered a refugee within their country of nationality/habitual residence.

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Wed, 14 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Introduces E-Notification of Application Acceptance http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_introduces_e-notification_of_application_acceptance_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=303 USCIS Introduces E-Notification of Application Acceptance

 

Oct 9 2009

On June 25, 2009, President Obama announced that in the next 9 days, USCIS intended to launch an improved USCIS website (at www.uscis.gov) that would better assist customers in managing their immigration needs and maintaining up-to-date information on the status of their cases.

As part of this larger initiative, USCIS has now launched an online, E-Notification initiative for immigration applications/petitions filed at one of three Lockbox locations (Chicago, Phoenix and Lewisville [TX]). Individuals that file their applications/petitions at one of these locations will now have the option of receiving an email and/or text message providing verification that the application or petition has been accepted by USCIS.

Individuals wishing to receive E-Notification should complete Form G-1145, the E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance form, and attach it to the top of their application or petition. Information you share in this form will be used by USCIS to contact you via email and/or text message.

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Fri, 09 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Nebraska to Require Public Employers to Use E-Verify http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nebraska_to_require_public_employers_to_use_e-verify http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=304 Nebraska Now Requires Public Employers to Use E-Verify to Determine Employee Eligibility

 

Oct 7 2009

Earlier this year, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed into law a bill that would require public employers, including state agencies, and contractors working for public employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify program to determine the employment eligibility of all new hires. This law went into effect October 1. As of October 1, all public employers must include in their contract with a contractor the provision that the contractor use the E-Verify system to determine all new hires’ employment eligibility. Additionally, for two years, Nebraska’s Department of Labor will have available information about E-Verify for private employers and will encourage the use of the program by private employers.

Nebraska is the latest state to require the use of the E-Verify system for public employers and their contractors. E-Verify is also required in some form in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Utah.

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Wed, 07 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Says 46,700 H-1B Cap Petitions Received http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_says_46%2C700_h-1b_cap_petitions_received_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=305 USCIS Posts Update of the Number of H-1B Petitions Received

 

Oct 2 2009

USCIS has posted an update of the number of H-1B petitions the federal agency has received. As of September 25, 2009, roughly 46,700 H-1B cap-subject petitions and 20,000 H-1B petitions that qualify for the advanced degree cap exemption have been received by USCIS. A total of 65,000 H-1B visas are available for this fiscal year.

In previous years, USCIS received large amounts of H-1B petitions. In many cases the agency stopped accepting these petitions days or weeks after the initial acceptance date. This year, however, due to the economic recession, the amount of filed petitions is much lower. On April 17, 2009, in their first public notification about this year’s H-1B program, USCIS announced they had received roughly 43,000 H-1B petitions and 20,000 that qualified for the advanced degree cap exemption.

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Fri, 02 Oct 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DV-2011 Registration Period Begins October 2 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dv-2011_registration_period_begins_october_2_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=306 DV-2011 Registration Period Begins October 2

 

Sep 30 2009

The online registration period for entering the 2011 Diversity Visa lottery begins at noon, Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, October 2 and ends at noon, Eastern Standard Time, Monday, November 30. Individuals interested in applying for the DV-2011 program and being considered for permanent residency in the U.S. through the program should apply for the lottery using Form DS-5501, the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form, during this open registration period. The form can be accessed online at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Paper entries will not be allowed.

The Diversity Visa program makes available visas to people that meet the program’s simple requirements for eligibility, including being a native of a country whose natives qualify for the program and meeting either the education or work experience requirement of the lottery program (a high school education or its equivalent OR two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform).

A maximum of 55,000 visas will be distributed among six geographic regions, with more visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration. Visas are not available to nationals of any country that has sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the last five years. Further, within each geographic region, no one country can receive more than seven percent of the available visas in any one year.

For the 2011 Diversity Visa lottery program, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply:

Brazil, Canada, China (Mainland-Born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom (Except Northern Ireland) and its Dependent Territories, and Vietnam.

Please note that people born in Hong Kong Sar, Macau Sar ad Taiwan are eligible for this year’s program.

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Wed, 30 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS May Increase Fees for Immigration Services http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_may_increase_fees_for_immigration_services_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=307 USCIS May Increase Fees for Immigration Services

 

Sep 25 2009

Earlier this week, on a visit to Los Angeles, Alejandro Mayorkas, the new Director of USCIS, stated that the federal agency may have to raise fees and cut the budget for immigration services next year. According to Mayorkas, financial challenges have led to the agency considering to raise fees for immigration services. Currently, USCIS is looking at generating $118 million less in revenue this year, due to a smaller amount of individuals and employers applying for citizenship and visas.

The number of individuals applying for citizenship declined greatly last year; many believe that decrease was due, in large part, to a 2007 increase in fees for citizenship applications. Advocates of immigrants believe that any further fee increases will lead to even more drastic reductions in citizenship applications in the years to come.

According to Mayorkas, USCIS is required to be a self-supporting agency. While USCIS is seeking an increase in federal funding – recently, they requested just over $206 million in funds from Congress – it is possible, Mayorkas says, that immigration services fees will increase again in the near future.

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Fri, 25 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Launches Revamped Online Case Tracking System http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_launches_revamped_online_case_tracking_system http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=308 U.S. Government Launches New Web-Based Immigration Alert System for Applicants  Sep 23 2009 Yesterday, USCIS unveiled a new, web-based program that lets immigration applicants check the status of their cases through text messages and emails. This new program is another way to minimize red tape through technological innovation, according to administration officials. The government is also currently developing a new way for individuals in the U.S. to receive emergency info from the government, along with consumer product recalls and other important alerts, through electronic means. The new immigration tracking method and the proposed emergency alert system are both part of a method to fundamentally change the way the government communicates with those residing in the U.S.These efforts are “fundamentally changing the default of the public sector,” said Vivek Kundra, the government’s Chief Information Officer. “You’re seeing a result of a transparent and open government the president talked about.” The new immigration alert system will, among other things, remind applicants if portions of their application are not complete (e.g., digital fingerprints not recorded successfully). Instead of applicants having to contact the government for information, this information will now be outbound through the new e-alert system. ]]> Wed, 23 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Federal Funding to Aid Immigrants in Becoming U.S. Citizens http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/federal_funding_to_aid_immigrants_in_becoming_u.s._citizens http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=309 Federal Funds to Aid Organizations Will Help Immigrants Become Citizens

 

Sep 19 2009

A number of resource organizations for immigrants has just received $1.2 million dollars in federal funding to help legal residents become U.S. citizens. Thirteen organizations around the U.S. received up to $100,000 each to help increase the amount of green card holders they are able to help increase English skills, learn about U.S. history and government and ready themselves for the U.S. naturalization test.

These funds, given to Dallas’ Catholic Charities Immigration and Legal Services, San Francisco’s Jewish Family and Children’s Services, North Carolina’s Lutheran Family Services, Rhode Island’s Progreso Latino and other organizations, are, according to the federal government only to be used to provide direct services to legal residents of the U.S. The announcement was made on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

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Sat, 19 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
2011 Diversity Immigration Visa Program Opens on October 2 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/2011_diversity_immigration_visa_program_opens_on_october_2 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=310 2011 Diversity Immigration Visa Program Open for Entries Starting October 2

 

Sep 16 2009

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has just released an update that the online entry registration period for the 2011 Diversity Immigrant Visa program will be October 2 until November 30. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program enables up to 50,000 diversity visas to be available annually. These visas are drawn randomly from all entries received from individuals that have met the specific requirements of the program and are from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

The entry period for the DV-2010 program ended on December 1, 2008. Information about selected individuals is now available and individuals that entered the lottery through the program’s official website (www.dvlottery.state.gov) can check the status of their lottery entry at that same website address.

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Wed, 16 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Filing Address for Orphan and Adoption Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_filing_address_for_orphan_and_adoption_petitions http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=311 USCIS Changes Filing Address for Orphan/Adoption Petitions  Sep 15 2009 USCIS announced last week the changing of filing locations for a series of forms. First, Form I-600, the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and Form I-600A, the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, should now be sent to the following address:Regular Mail: USCIS, P.O. Box 299027, Lewisville, TX 75029Express Mail/Courier Service: USCIS, ATTN: Adoption, 2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067This change took place on October 6; however, applicants will have a 30-day transition period before USCIS returns incorrectly filed I-600 and I-600A petitions. Second, USCIS announced the change in filing location for Form I-800, the Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and Form I-800A, the Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, both related to the Hague Adoption Convention. The new mailing address for these petitions are: Regular Mail: USCIS, P.O. Box 299008, Lewisville, TX 75029Express Mail/Courier Service: USCIS, ATTN: Hague, 2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067This change also took place on October 6. As was the case with Form I-600 and I-600A, there will be a 30-day transition period before USCIS returns incorrectly filed I-800 and I-800A petitions. ]]> Tue, 15 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Study Finds 62% Drop in Naturalization After Fee Increase http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/study_finds_62%25_drop_in_naturalization_after_fee_increase http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=312 Study Finds that Fewer Immigrants Applied for U.S. Citizenship Last Year  Sep 11 2009 The number of immigrants that applied to become U.S. citizens shrunk 62 percent last year, due to the rise in costs associated with naturalization. In 2007, the costs for naturalization increased from $330 to $595 (with an additional $80 fingerprinting fee). Prior to that rate increase nearly 1.4 million people filed applications in 2007. This created a backlog that almost tripled the time it took to process these applications. Last year, however, only 525,786 people applied for naturalization, the lowest number since 2003. In a report released by the National Council of La Raza, a well-known Latino advocacy group, it is stated that “eligible applicants face mounting economic pressures that threaten to place naturalization out of reach.”The Council suggests that the government should look for ways to minimize the cost of processing these applications for those with economic hardship. ]]> Fri, 11 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson E-Verify Required for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/e-verify_required_for_federal_contractors_and_subcontractors http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=313 E-Verify Now Required by Law for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors; USCIS Publishes Supplemental Guide on the Program

 

Sep 9 2009

USCIS has just published a supplemental guide for federal contractors on the E-Verify system. The guide, published on September 8, 2009, is available online at: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/E-Verify/Federal%20Contractors/Supplemental%20Guidance%20for%20Federal%20Contractors%20082709%20FINAL.pdf

USCIS’ rule that all federal contractors and subcontractors are required to use E-Verify, the government’s online portal to confirm the identity and employment authorization of employees, went into effect on September 8. The 22-page supplemental guide provides guidance on a range of topics for contractors, including background information on E-Verify and federal legislation related to the program, detailed instructions for verifying new and existing employees, instructions for how to verify your workforce, information on contracts, exemptions and exceptions, and information for subcontractors and independent contractors and affiliates.

The E-Verify program and legislation related to it have been fraught with problems. Many groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other national trade organizations, have been quite vocal in their opposition to the program. The program, however, is now active and required for use by all federal contractors and subcontractors, with the exception of a few exempt groups.

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Wed, 09 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S. and Mexico Create Cross Border Communications Network http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._and_mexico_create_cross_border_communications_network http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=314 US and Mexico Work Together to Create New Cross Border Communications Network  Sep 4 2009 Earlier this week, the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and State (DOS) announced that senior officials of the United States-Mexico High-Level Consultative Commission on Telecommunications (HLCC) have just signed a bilateral agreement that will support the creation of a new cross-border communications network for law enforcement and public safety officials to use to strengthen border security. This agreement, signed on September 2, established a bilateral working group in which DHS and Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) will coordinate the installation and operation of the communications network. Participating safety and law enforcement officers will be able to coordinate cross-border collaboration on incident response and other aspects of law enforcement through voice, data and video means. ]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson E-Verify Mandatory for Federal Contractors on September 8 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/e-verify_mandatory_for_federal_contractors_on_september_8 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=315 Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Required to Use E-Verify As of September 8

 

Sep 2 2009

After a number of legal hold-ups, the E-Verify system is soon going to be a required system for the verification of employee eligibility verification for federal contractors and subcontractors. Effective September 8, 2009, all companies with contracts with the federal government and their subcontractors will be required to use E-Verify to verify the employment eligibility of their employees. E-Verify compares information entered into the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form against data in federal government databases.

The E-Verify system is free to use and was created by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration.

Legislation requiring the use of E-Verify extends the use of the E-Verify system to “covered federal contractors and subcontractors.” This includes all contractors that have received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. All companies that receive federal contracts after September 8 will be required to enroll in the E-Verify system within 30 days of the contract award date. All new hires, regardless of whether these employees will work on the federal contract(s), will need to have their eligibility confirmed by the E-Verify System.

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Wed, 02 Sep 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Clarifies Use of Electronic Media Searches at U.S. Ports http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_clarifies_use_of_electronic_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=317 DHS Issues Directive on Electronic Media Searches at U.S. Ports of Entry  Aug 27 2009 Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced today that the agency will begin new directives to “enhance and clarify” oversight for searches conducted on computers and other forms of digital media at U.S. ports of entry.This new directive details the circumstances in which DHS agencies (CBP, ICE) can conduct searches of electronic media at ports of entry; these circumstances are similar to the justifications for searching other “sensitive” material, such as briefcases, backpacks and notebooks.“Keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States,” said Napolitano. “The new directives announced today strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders.”This directive, promoted today by DHS, comes just one day after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the agency, asking for clarification of its search policy and the impact that policy has had on the civil liberties of travelers at U.S. ports of entry over the past year. This is the ACLU’s second request for information; it’s first occurred in June of this year.ACLUE has commented that current policy allows for government agents to read information on travelers’ laptops and other digital media, without any particular and individualized suspicion. This includes information such as personal financial data, photographs and web browsing history.The new DHS directive, according to DHS, will “ensure training materials and procedures promote fair and consistent enforcement of the law relating to electronic media searches.” Travelers that are being searched will also now receive material that lets them know the reasons for the search, how the data discovered might be used and additional information about the traveler’s constitutional and statutory rights. ]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Global Entry Program Expands to 13 New Airports http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/global_entry_program_expands_to_13_new_airports_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=318 Global Entry Program Expands to 13 New Airports

 

Aug 26 2009

In order to streamline international travelers’ process to enter the U.S. at a port of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented a kiosk system, in which passengers can verify their identities without having to wait in long lines. The ‘Global Entry’ program uses kiosks that look like ATMS to let international travelers swipe their passports and scan their fingerprints. Such visitors can complete the required identity verification processes to re-enter the U.S. in a fraction of the time they have traditionally spent.

The Global Entry kiosks are being introduced this week in a total of 13 new airports across the U.S. and can be used only by U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents. The kiosk system has been tested for the past year in 7 airports and more than 15,000 travelers have signed up for the program, which costs $100 and involves a detailed background check. After rollout, a total of 20 airports will use the kiosk verification technology.

Learn more or register online at: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/global_entry/.

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Wed, 26 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Adjustment of Status for Out of Status Religious Workers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/adjustment_of_status_for_out_of_status_religious_workers http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=319 Some Religious Workers Considered Unlawfully Present or Unauthorized to Work May Seek Adjustment of Status

 

Aug 20 2009

Religious workers are reminded that an essential deadline for certain applications will soon be pending. According to a court ruling in Ruiz-Diaz v. United States, applicants who have had Form I-360 Religious Worker Immigrant Petitions pending as of June 11, 2009, and are currently considered unlawfully present or unauthorized for employment in the U.S., are able to submit an Application for Adjustment of Status. If your Application for Adjustment of Status is properly submitted by August 31, 2009, consideration of you as unlawfully present or unauthorized to work will be tolled until USCIS reaches a final decision on your case.

Individuals under the above category who are in removal proceedings should consider seeking termination of those proceedings so that they may file their Application for Adjustment of Status by the August 31 deadline.

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Thu, 20 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Rescinds Social Security No-Match Rule http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_rescinds_social_security_no-match_rule http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=320 DHS Publishes Notice to Rescind 2007 No-Match Rule

 

Aug 19 2009

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has just published a notice in the Federal Record in which it rescind previous amendments related to how employers should respond when they receive no match letters. This recent notice calls for rescinding the August 2007 No-Match Rule and the 2008 Supplemental Final Rule.

The original 2007 rule described the obligations employers had when they received no-match letters from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or a letter regarding employment verification from DHS. These letters are sent when an employee’s stated Social Security number does not match the numbers in the SSA’s existing database. In addition the 2007 rule provided ‘Safe Harbors,’ rules employers could follow that would establish that the employer did not have knowledge that the employee in question was an unauthorized alien. If an employer is shown to have knowledge of an employee’s unauthorized status, that employer can be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

The current notice comes as DHS now believes they have created substantial improvements in E-Verify program (the electronic employment verification system) and other federal programs to provide the resources employers need to reduce instances of unauthorized employment. DHS believes that a better use of resources would be to focus efforts on enforcement and community outreach to “increase compliance through improved verification, including increased participation in the USCIS’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification system, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers (IMAGE), and other programs.”

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Wed, 19 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Acknowledges Problems with iCERT LCA Portal http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_acknowledges_problems_with_icert_lca_portal http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=321 Department of Labor Comments on Errors in Certifying Employer Federal Employer Identification Numbers

 

Aug 14 2009

It has been noted that multiple U.S. employers have been having problems receiving approvals for Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), that are required to request H-1B petitions as part of the iCert program. These problems occur in cases where the Department of Labor is unable to verify the requesting employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), and, in some cases, occurs even when employers correctly enter in this information.

The Department of Labor has recently amended the error notice that is created in instances where there is an error related to an employer’s FEIN. The new error notification provides detailed instructions on how the employer can provide and submit documentation to the Department of Labor. Please note that this additional process may extend the time it takes the Department of Labor to process the request.

The iCert program, according to the Department of Labor, is a “one-stop to improve access to employment-based visa application services and USDOL immigration news and information.” It is available online at http://icert.doleta.gov/ and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Fri, 14 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Begins Accepting FY 2009 H-2B Visa Applications http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_begins_accepting_fy_2009_h-2b_visa_applications http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=322 USCIS Now Accepting H-2B Visa Applications for FY 2009

 

Aug 12 2009

After receiving less H-2B visa applications than expected from employers this year, USCIS has again begun accepting applications for this visa category. The H-2B visa, which provides temporary entry into the U.S. for semi-skilled workers, has an annual cap of 66,000. So far, USCIS has only issued just over 40,000 of these visas for this fiscal year (ending September 30). “Because of the low visa issuance rate, (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS) is reopening the filing period to allow employers to file additional petitions for qualified H-2B temporary foreign non-agricultural workers," reported USCIS.

The H-2B program enables employers to bring in temporary foreign workers to fill non-agricultural positions for which there is a shortage of U.S. workers. These positions are typically in areas such as health care, food service, landscaping and construction. In previous years, there was a high demand for these workers and, typically, the amount of applications received were much more than the 66,000 annual cap. However, this year, as we’ve seen with the H-1B program, the global recession has greatly affected employer needs for H-2B workers.

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Wed, 12 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Updates Several Immigration-Related Medical Forms http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_several_immigration-related_medical_forms_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=323 USCIS Updates Several Immigration-Related Medical Forms

 

Aug 6 2009

USCIS has updated a number of immigration-related medical forms, all of which are now available for use and download. According to USCIS, all consular posts should now start using the new forms DS-2053, DS-3024, DS-3026 and DS-3025 and discontinue the use of older versions of these forms. Forms DS-3054 and DS-3030 include changes and updates that were made to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Technical Insrtuctions. CDC is currently in the process of updating the 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instruction to all consular posts.

The updated medical forms include the following:

DS-2053 - Medical Examination for Immigrant or Refugee Applicant

DS-2054 - Medical Examination for Immigrant or Refugee Applicant

DS-3024 - Chest X-Ray and Classification Worksheet

DS-3030 - Chest X-Ray and Classification Worksheet

DS-3026 - Medical History of Physical Examination Worksheet

DS-3025 - Vaccination Documentation Worksheet

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Thu, 06 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Increases Number of H-1B and L-1 Worksite Audits http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_increases_number_of_h-1b_and_l-1_worksite_audits_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=324 USCIS Increases Number of H-1B and L-1 Worksite Audits

 

Aug 4 2009

Current feedback has revealed that USCIS has greatly increased the number of surprise visits to the worksites of U.S. employers of H-1B and L-1 visa beneficiaries. According to anecdotal information, agents of USCIS have been coming to worksites with a list of questions they are asking all employers, regardless of company size. The goal of these visits is to ensure the identity of the petitioner and beneficiary, and to make sure that the beneficiary is working within the terms of the visa they have received.

It should be noted that, so far, these agents are arriving at employer locations without the authority to enter the worksite and request entry and employer consent. Legally, employers have the right to deny these agents entry into their worksites at that time.

It is essential that employers prepare for these potential audits ahead of time by collecting and having ready all necessary materials and proof of compliance for these agent representatives. Please contact us for more information and guidance regarding this increase in worksite audits.

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Tue, 04 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Napolitano Talks Immigration Policy and ICE Worksite Raids http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/napolitano_talks_immigration_policy_and_ice_worksite_raids http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=325 Napolitano Discusses Immigration Policy and the Recent Increase in Raids and Policy Implementation

 

Jul 30 2009

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, led a closed-door meeting this week in Seattle, Washington with representatives from a number of industries and advocacy groups affected by immigration legislation. On Monday, Napolitano met with members of immigration advocacy groups, labor unions, local officials, police officers, representatives of farmworkers' associations and other interested parties. In the meeting, Napolitano and the attendees discussed current and proposed changes to immigration legislation and enforcement.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration called for the auditing of the workforces of more than 650 businesses throughout the country, leading to major concerns voiced by businesses and relevant organizations that want to understand the impact of these changes in the implementation of policy at the national level.

"Secretary Napolitano believes it's important to speak directly to the many individuals and groups that are impacted by our work," said Matt Chandler, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security.

In the meeting, attendees voiced their concerns about recent ICE practices, including programs looking to utilize local law enforcement officials in the tasks of tracking illegal immigrants and due process rights for immigrants that have been incarcerated by federal officials.

While there had been earlier talk about comprehensive immigration reform entering the national agenda as a major news item this year, currently the issue has been substantially shadowed by current interest in healthcare reform. It is expected, however, that the Obama Administration, with Napolitano as its primary decision-maker, will push forward with shifts to changes in policy and implementation in the coming months.

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Thu, 30 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Issuing More RFEs for New H-1B and Green Card Cases? http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_issuing_more_rfes_for_new_h-1b_and_green_card_cases%3F http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=326 USCIS Increasing Its Requests For Evidence for New H-1B and Green Card Petitions

 

Jul 27 2009

According to a number of sources, it appears that the USCIS has increased the number of requests for evidence it has submitted to petitioners applying for new H-1B visas and permanent residency cards. The process of obtaining H-1B visas and green cards has been slowed down by this added set of requests for additional information. USCIS has asked some petitioners for corporate payroll records, zoning maps and other proofs of evidence for new H-1B and green card requests.

In response to complaints regarding this increase in documentation requests, USCIS commented that it has indeed increased its scrutiny of new H-1B visa and green card applications. This is due, USCIS states, to new restrictions set in place by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which includes a number of H-1B restrictions on companies that have received TARP bailout funds.

USCIS comments that it is requesting additional evidence in cases where it is possible that beneficiaries will not be working at the location of the petitioner, but may be working at a secondary location.

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Mon, 27 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for R-1 Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_resumes_premium_processing_for_r-1_petitions http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=327 Premium Processing for Some R-1 Petitions Has Resumed

 

Jul 21 2009

USCIS has just announced that it has now resumed Premium Processing services for R-1 Nonimmigrant Religious Worker petitioners. According to USCIS petitioners who have successfully passed an on-site inspection may request the premium processing service. USCIS defines “successful completion of a site inspection” as an inspection conducted at the employment location of the beneficiary which “has resulted in satisfactory completion of such inspection.”

Petitioners are not required to submit proof of their eligibility to USCIS to request premium processing of R-1 cases. Instead, USCIS will conduct a search in its electronic systems for verification of the successful completion of the site inspection upon receipt of the Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, when it is submitted with an R-1 petition.

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Tue, 21 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Planning to Rescind 2007 SSA No-Match Rule http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_planning_to_rescind_2007_ssa_no-match_rule_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=328 DHS to Rescind 2007 No-Match Rule

 

Jul 17 2009

According to Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon be proposing a new regulation that would get rid of the 2007 No-Match Rule. The No-Match Rule was blocked by court order just after it was issued; it has never taken effect. The rule called for procedures that employers could follow after receiving SSA No-Match letters or DHS notices that called into question employment eligibility information provided by their employees.

These notices typically would provide information to employers that an employee’s name and Social Security Number did not match SSA records months after the employee hire date. Many times, these No-Match cases were due to typographical errors or unreported name changes.

Napolitano and her department, who fully support the E-Verify program, believe that E-Verify addresses data inaccuracies that result in some No-Match cases and can better assess actual individuals unauthorized to work in the U.S.

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Fri, 17 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Congress to confer on Homeland Security Appropriations Bill http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/congress_to_confer_on_homeland_security_appropriations_bill http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=329 Senate Calls for Conference with House on Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

 

Jul 15 2009

Earlier this week, the Senate announced that its amendments to the Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill should be included in the final version of that bill. The Senate has requested a conference with representative members of the House of Representatives to seek a resolution of differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

In preparation, the Senate has announced which Senators will be members of the conference. The House has not yet announced their conferees.

The House version of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill passed on June 24 by a vote of 389 to 37. Included in that version was a two-year reauthorization of the Basic Pilot/E-Verify program.

The Senate version of the bill passed on July 9 by a vote of 84 to 6.

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Wed, 15 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Council on Foreign Relations Calls for Immigration Reform http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/council_on_foreign_relations_calls_for_immigration_reform http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=330 Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Calls for Immigration Reform in the U.S.

 

Jul 10 2009

An independent task force with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) just released a report on U.S. immigration policies. The task force calls for the Obama administration and Congress to push forward with comprehensive immigration reform. If not, the task force reports, the U.S. economy could weaken, the country’s diplomacy could be weakened and its national security threatened.

A major recommendation of the task force is that the effort to instill comprehensive immigration reform should be of utmost priority for legislators and should start as soon as possible.

The report was made up of a number of suggestions covering the breadth and depth of immigration:

(1) Comprehensive immigration should be a priority on current legislators’ agendas.

(2) The U.S. must work diligently to attract skilled workers from other countries; this should be the central component of U.S. immigration policies. The task force suggests that caps placed on employment-bas.

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Fri, 10 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Immigration Amendments Added to DHS Appropriations Bill http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/immigration_amendments_added_to_dhs_appropriations_bill http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=331 Two Immigration-Related Amendments Are Added to the Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill by U.S. Senate  Jul 8 2009 The U.S. Senate has added and passed two immigration-related amendments to the upcoming Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The first amendment, sponsored by Senator Sessions (R-AL), proposes to reauthorize the Basic Pilot/E-Verify program and require that all federal contractors and subcontractors use the web-based compliance service. An additional sub-amendment was attached to this amendment by Senator Leahy (D-VT) that would permanently authorize the EB-5 Regional Centers program. These amendments were agreed to by a voice vote. The second amendment, sponsored by Senator DeMint (R-SC), proposes to require the completion of a minimum of 700 miles of reinforced fencing along the Southwest border of the U.S. by the end of 2010. This amendment passed by a vote of 54 to 44. If the overall appropriations bill is passed by the Senate, the bill will then go to conference, where representatives from the House and the Senate will then work to reconcile differences between their two versions of the bill. ]]> Wed, 08 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson ICE Launches 652 New I-9 Audit Investigations http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ice_launches_652_new_i-9_audit_investigations http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=332 Immigration Officials Issue Notices of Inspection for I-9 Audits to 652 Businesses Nationwide

 

Jul 2 2009

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced a new audit initiative by issuing Notices of Inspection to 652 businesses throughout the U.S. This number is astounding; it's more than ICE issued throughout all of the last fiscal year. These notices have informed these businesses that ICE will inspect their hiring records to make sure that the businesses are complying with federal employment eligibility verification requirements.

"ICE is committed to establishing a meaningful I-9 inspection program to promote compliance with the law. This nationwide effort is a first step in ICE's long-term strategy to address and deter illegal employment," said John Morto, Assistant Secretary for ICE, Department of Homeland Security.

Federal law requires employers to fill-in and keep record of an I-9 Form for each person they hire to work in the U.S. the I-9 Form requires employers to verify the identities and employment authorization of their employees.

All 652 businesses that received Notices of Inspection today for I-9 audits were selected based on leads and other investigative information obtained by ICE. Names and locations of these businesses have not yet been released by ICE.

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Thu, 02 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Some Consular Posts Accepting Web-Based NIV Applications http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/some_consular_posts_accepting_web-based_niv_applications http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=333 Some International Consular Posts Now Accepting Web-Based Nonimmigrant Applications

 

Jul 1 2009

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently announced that it has begun accepting electronic, web-based applications for nonimmigrant visas at a number of international consular posts, with the goal of having the new, web-based application system in place worldwide as soon as possible. Currently, consular posts in Ciudad Juarez, Dublin, Hamilton (Bermuda) Hermosillo, Hong Kong, Matamoros, Monterrey, Montreal, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Tripoli, and Vancouver accept these web-based applications and, shortly, the applications will be accepted at all posts in Canada.

Many of the above-stated consulates are requiring the use of the web-based nonimmigrant application form. To apply for a nonimmigrant visa using the new, web-based DS-160 form, please visit https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/, or, when applicable, the specified Web site page for the consular post you are applying at. When you have completed the form, you will receive confirmation; you should bring a print-out of this confirmation page with you to your personal interview. Additionally, if you were not able to scan in your photographs into the web-based application system, you should plan on bringing hard copies of those photos to your personal interview.

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Wed, 01 Jul 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reinstates Premium Processing for I-140 Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reinstates_premium_processing_for_i-140_petitions http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=334 USCIS Resumes Premium Processing Services for Many I-140 Petitions

 

Jun 30 2009

USCIS announced in late June that it will resume Premium Processing Services for Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. Effective June 29, 2009, the federal agency resumed accepting premium processing requests for Forms I-140 for EB-1 Aliens with Extraordinary Ability, EB-1 Outstanding Professors and Researchers, EB-2 Members of Professions with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability that are not seeking a National Interest Waiver, EB-3 Professionals, EB-3 Skilled Workers, and EB-3 Workers other than Skilled Workers and Professionals.

Please note that premium processing services are not available for Forms I-140 for cases involving EB-1 Multinational Executives and Managers and EB-2 Members of Professions with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability seeking a National Interest Waiver.

Under USCIS’s Premium Processing Service, the agency guarantees that it will either issue an approval notice or, if applicable, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence, or open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation within 15 calendar days for all petitioners that provide a $1,000 processing fee along with their I-140 petition. If this 15-day period is not met, the processing fee will be returned to the petitioner and USCIS will continue to process the request as part of the Premium Processing Service.

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Tue, 30 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Extends Form I-9 Validity After June 30, 2009 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_extends_form_i-9_validity_after_june_30%2C_2009 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=335 USCIS Announces that Current I-9 Form Will Remain Valid Past June 30

 

Jun 26 2009

USCIS announced today that the version of Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification form, currently on the USCIS Web site will continue to be valid for use beyond June 30, 2009. USCIS has requested that the Office of Management and Budget approve the use of the current version of the Form I-9. This request is still pending, but during this period, the current form, revised on February 2, 2009, will remain valid.

USCIS notes that they will update the I-9 form when the extension is approved by the Office of Management and Budget. Employers will then be able to use either the newly revised form or the form currently available (revised 02/02/2009).

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Fri, 26 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Update on H-1B Cap Usage http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_update_on_h-1b_cap_usage http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=336 USCIS Posts Update of Cap-Subject H Visas Received  Jun 24 2009 USCIS has just posted an update regarding the number of petitions received for visas in the H category that are subject to annual caps.H-1B VisasH-1B visas are available to some U.S. employers to use to bring foreign workers in specialty occupations that require technical or theoretical expertise in a specialized field. H-1B occupations include architects, computer programmers, accountants and doctors, among other professions. Each year, a total of 65,000 cap-subject H-1B visas are available to such individuals.According to USCIS, as of June 19, 2009, only 44,500 H-1B cap-subject petitions and approximately 20,000 petitions that qualify for the advanced degree cap exemption have been filed by U.S. employers. USCIS notes that they will continue to accept petitions for both the cap-subject and advanced degree categories until they have received enough to adequately fill the Fiscal Year limit of 65,000 available visas. ]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson VWP Passports Must Now Be E-Passports http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/vwp_passports_must_now_be_e-pass http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=337 VWP Passports Must Now Be E-Passports  Jun 19 2009 According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as of July 1, 2009, all Visa Waiver Program (VWP) emergency or temporary passports must be electronic passports. Only individuals holding these e-Passports will be able to travel to the U.S. under the VWP. Included in this category are applicants who present for proof of identification emergency or temporary passports. E-Passports contain integrated chips that store biographic data, digitized photographs and other information about the passport holders. CBP notes that they have the right to exercise discretion at ports of entry for cases in which VWP applicants are traveling to the U.S. for medical or other “emergency” reasons. VWP applicants entering the U.S. with passports that do not comply to this regulation (with the exception of those that are traveling for emergency reasons and have been given discretionary approval) may be detained for processing and may potentially be denied admission to the U.S. ]]> Fri, 19 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DOJ Backlog of Immigration Cases is Highest this Decade http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/doj_backlog_of_immigration_cases_is_highest_this_decade http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=338 U.S. Justice Department Facing Highest Backlog of Immigration Cases in a Decade  Jun 17 2009 According to a report just published by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan group that conducts analysis on the performance of the federal government, U.S. immigration courts are facing major slowdowns. According to TRAC, even though the Justice Department three years ago reported that U.S. immigration courts were severely overburdened and called for the hiring of 40 new judges, only a few judges have been hired and the reported backlog of immigration cases has hit the highest level this decade. TRAC reports that the lack of necessary judges has led to a 19 percent increase in case backlog since 2006 and a 23 percent increase in the time it takes to resolve cases. In mid-April the Justice Department noted that there were 234 immigration judges practicing in the U.S., an increase of only 4 judges since two years prior. At the same time, the number of immigration cases received by U.S. courts peaked to exorbitant numbers; last year, more than 350,000 cases were received, due in large part to the Bush Administration’s crackdown on factories and immigrant communities in the Midwest and Southwest regions of the country. Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, recently commented that the Justice Department intends to hire 19 new immigration judges. By 2010, they plan to have hired 28 more judges and 28 clerks. ]]> Wed, 17 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Again Updates FY 2010 H-1B Numbers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_again_updates_fy_2010_h-1b_numbers_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=339 USCIS Again Updates FY 2010 H-1B Numbers

 

Jun 12 2009

On June 5, USCIS again updated the current number of H-1B visa applications received for Fiscal Year 2010. According to USCIS, roughly 44,000 H-1B cap-subject visas have been received. Approximately 20,000 petitions that qualify for the advanced degree cap exemption have been additionally filed. USCIS notes that they will continue to accept cap-subject and advanced degree exemption petitions until they believe a sufficient number have been received.

A total of up to 65,000 H-1B visas are allowed for Fiscal Year 2010, along with an additional 20,000 visas for petitioners with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. When the agency receives the necessary number of petitions to meet these caps for FY 2010, it will issue a notice to advise the public that the cap has been met by its specified final receipt date. That final receipt date will be based on the date that USCIS received the petition and not the date that the petition was postmarked.

USCIS will then randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the cap limits for the H-1B program for FY 2010 from all petitions received on or before the specified final receipt date. Cap-subject petitions not randomly selected will be rejected by USCIS, as will those petitions received after the final receipt date.

Please note that petitions filed on behalf of H-1B workers who have previously been counted against an annual cap will not count toward the FY 2010 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to process petitions for H-1B workers (or those petitioning on their behalf) that wish to extend the amount of time they may remain in the U.S., change their terms of employment, change employers, or work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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Fri, 12 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Provides Temporary Relief in "Widow Penalty" Cases http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_provides_temporary_relief_in_%22widow_penalty%22_cases http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=340 Department of Homeland Security Provides Temporary Relief for Certain Widows and Widowers of U.S. Citizens Facing Immigration Action

 

Jun 10 2009

Earlier this week Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), amended immigration regulations for widows and widowers of U.S. citizens, and their unmarried children under the age of 18, who live in the U.S. and who were married for less than two years before their spouse’s death. Any immigration actions against these individuals, according to the newly granted reprieve, will be deferred for two years.

"Smart immigration policy balances strong enforcement practices with common-sense, practical solutions to complicated issues," said Napolitano. "Granting deferred action to the widows and widowers of U.S. citizens who otherwise would have been denied the right to remain in the United States allows these individuals and their children an opportunity to stay in the country that has become their home while their legal status is resolved."

In addition Napolitano provided guidance to USCIS to suspend the adjudication of visa petitions and adjustments of status applications filed for widows and widowers, in cases where the only reason for a reassessment of the individual’s immigration status was the death of their U.S. citizen spouse (in cases where they were married for less than two years).

Finally, USCIS has received guidance to favorably consider requests for the humanitarian reinstatement of immigration status in cases where previously approved petitions for widows and widowers were revoked due to regulations.

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Wed, 10 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
E-Verify Regulation Delayed Again http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/e-verify_regulation_delayed_again http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=341 E-Verify Regulation Delayed Again

 

Jun 5 2009

USCIS has again delayed the final rule that would require federal contractors and subcontractors to start using the organization’s E-Verify system to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees. According to a recent governmental posting, the E-Verify regulation has been delayed to September 8, 2009.

The rule was originally published in November 2008 and was to have become law in January 2009. However, the federal requirement had received criticism from a number of groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Society of Human Resource Management, who filed suit to block the implementation of the requirement on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

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Fri, 05 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces Delay in Green Card Production http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_delay_in_green_card_production http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=342 USCIS Announces Delay in Green Card Production and Delivery Jun 4 2009 USCIS announced this week that there may be up to an eight-week delay in the processing and delivery of permanent resident cards ("Green Cards") while the federal organization is in the process of updating its card production equipment. According to USCIS, its field offices will issue temporary evidence of permanent residence via an I-551 stamp to applicants who receive approval for permanent residence at the time of their interview. It is suggested that applicants bring their passports with them to their appointments. If you do not have a passport, it is suggested that you bring a passport-style photo and government-issued photo identification to receive temporary evidence of permanent residence. ]]> Thu, 04 Jun 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Driver's License No Longer Valid for Proof of Citizenship http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/driver%27s_license_no_longer_valid_for_proof_of_citizenship http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=343 Driver’s Licenses Will No Longer be Accepted as Proof of Citizenship at U.S. Ports of Entry  May 28 2009 As of next Monday, U.S. travelers returning home from Mexico or Canada will be required to display a passport, enhanced driver’s license, or other certified forms of identification at a border station. This legislative change is part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), a broad program that calls for, among other things, the standardization of documents used at U.S. ports of entry. "Obtaining a WHTI-approved document and complying with the law will help make our borders more secure," said Michael Freeman, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port director for the Brownsville, Texas port of entry. As of June 1, standard driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted as proof of citizenship, according to CBP. In addition to passports and enhanced driver's licenses, travelers may also use SENTRI, NEXUS or FAST cards at applicable ports of entry. SENTRI cards enable expedited travel at certain ports of entry along the U.S./Mexico border. NEXUS cards provide similar expedited travel at U.S./Canadian ports of entry. FAST cards are able to be used at both borders and is commonly used by commercial truck drivers. Individuals under the age of 16 will be able to show a birth certificate as proof of citizenship.]]> Thu, 28 May 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson ICE's Secure Communities Program Debuts in San Diego County http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ice%27s_secure_communities_program_debuts_in_san_diego_county http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=344 Secure Communities Program Starts in San Diego County; Jail Systems and ICE to Share Biometric Information  May 27 2009 Earlier this week, San Diego County became the first county in California to receive biometric information regarding immigration status of inmates through the new Secure Communities program. The program, managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), aims to ease the process by which the federal organization determines if an individual incarcerated in the U.S. is a removable criminal alien. Under this new program, all individuals booked into the three largest jails in San Diego County will have their fingerprints checked against the Department of Homeland Security's biometric records for immigration records. If a fingerprint matches that of a Homeland Security record, the electronic system will notify both ICE and the jail site of the match. ICE will then evaluate the case to determine and verify the individual's immigration status and decide if additional actions should be taken after the individual completes their prison sentence. According to ICE, the highest priority will be placed on aliens who pose the "greatest threat to public safety." These include individuals with prior convictions for major drug offenses, rape, robbery, murder and kidnapping. "Secure Communities is an ICE initiative to more broadly manage and modernize the processes used to identify and ultimately remove dangerous criminal aliens from our communities," said David Venturella, Executive Director for ICE Secure Communities. "Our goal with this ICE effort is to use information sharing to prevent criminal aliens from being released back into the community, with little or no additional burden on our local law enforcement partners."]]> Wed, 27 May 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Updates Naturalization Form for U.S. Military http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_naturalization_form_for_u.s._military http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=345 USCIS Updates and Clarifies the Naturalization Form for U.S. Armed Service Members  May 22 2009 Earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a notice regarding the form used to verify honorable military service in relation to naturalization. Form N-426, the Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service is used to verify the military/naval service of non-citizens applying for naturalization based on their participation in the U.S. armed forces. This form is commonly filled out incorrectly or incomplete; USCIS conducted extensive research into the reasons for these issues and have amended the form accordingly. Changes to the form, according to USCIS, will help members of the armed forces more easily and efficiently request naturalization based on their participation in the military. Major changes to the form include reducing its length to one page, adding phone number and e-mail address fields so that USCIS representatives will have additional methods to contact applicants and/or their certifying officials, replacing certain confusing questions with Yes/No questions and adding a help line number to the USCIS military help line. Since September 11, 2001, USCIS has naturalized over 47,500 members of the U.S. armed forces. Roughly 750 new applications for this category are received each month. ]]> Fri, 22 May 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DOL Postpones Mandatory Use of iCERT portal http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_postpones_mandatory_use_of_icert_portal http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=346 Department of Labor Postpones Mandatory Use of new iCERT portal for LCAs  May 19 2009 The Department of Labor has just announced that they are postponing the required use of the new iCERT online portal for Labor Condition Applications (LCAs). According to the Department of Labor, employers will be able to use the existing online systems for LCAs for the H-1B, E-3 and H-1B1 visa categories until June 30, 2009. As of today, mandatory use of the LCA portion of the iCERT portal, which was originally scheduled for May 15, 2009, will now be postponed until July 1, 2009. The implementation of the new portal requirement has been postponed, the Department of Labor says, so that various technological improvements can be made to the online system. Numerous problems had been reported to the Department about the portal since it first started being used on April 15, 2009. These problems included issues with registering with the system and faulty system functionality. Learn more about the iCERT portal online at www.icert.doleta.gov. The current LCA portal can be accessed by visiting www.lca.doleta.gov. ]]> Tue, 19 May 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson U.S. Passport Agency Opens in Detroit http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._passport_agency_opens_in_detroit http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=347 The Detroit Passport Agency is Now Open  May 16 2009 The Detroit Passport Agency was inaugurated this past Monday by Ambassador Janice L. Jacobs, the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. The agency, which is located in historic downtown Detroit (211 West Fort Street) opened its doors yesterday morning and will accept appointments from U.S. citizens wishing to travel within 14 days.The passport agency, one of 15 in the country open to the public, has the ability to issue U.S. passport books on-site to those that qualify. In late spring 2009, the agency will begin issuing the new U.S. passport cards. ]]> Sat, 16 May 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Posts Update on H-1B Cap-Subject Visas Received http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_update_on_h-1b_cap-subject_visas_received_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=348 USCIS Posts Update on H-1B Cap-Subject Visas Received

 

May 12 2009

One Monday, May 11, USCIS updated the current number of H-1B visas received. As of Monday, the government agency has received roughly 45,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions, along with 20,000 petitions that qualify for the advanced degree cap exemption. Interestingly to note, USCIS’s May 5 update reported the same number of H-1B cap-subject petitions received.

USCIS will continue to accept H-1B nonimmigrant visa petitions for FY 2010 annual cap. When the agency receives the necessary number of petitions to meet these caps for FY 2010, it will issue a notice to advise the public that the cap has been met by its specified final receipt date. That final receipt date will be based on the date that USCIS received the petition and not the date that the petition was postmarked.

USCIS will then randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the cap limits for the H-1B program for FY 2010 from all petitions received on or before the specified final receipt date. Cap-subject petitions not randomly selected will be rejected by USCIS, as will those petitions received after the final receipt date. Please note that petitions filed on behalf of H-1B workers who have previously been counted against an annual cap will not count toward the FY 2010 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to process petitions for H-1B workers (or those petitioning on their behalf) that wish to extend the amount of time they may remain in the U.S., change their terms of employment, change employers, or work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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Tue, 12 May 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Obama Budget Does Not Include More Border Fencing http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/obama_budget_does_not_include_more_border_fencing http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=350 Obama Administration Does Not Request Additional Border Fence Funding  May 8 2009 There are no requested funds for extensions to the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico in President Obama’s budget proposal submitted last week. According to Peggy Sherry, a key financial officer with the Department of Homeland Security, the Obama administration does not intend to extend the barrier fence beyond its current completed or planned 670 miles.In the budget request, the Obama administration asked for $779 million for FY 2010 for expenses related to border security, including technology installations, light infrastructure and the completion of a portion of the remaining 46 miles of barrier fencing.According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as of today, contractors have completed just over 320 miles of the 370 miles of planned pedestrian fencing and 302 miles of the planned automobile fencing. ]]> Fri, 08 May 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Modifies I-914, Application for T Visas http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_modifies_i-914%2C_application_for_t_visas http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=351 USCIS Modifies Form I-914, the Application for T Nonimmigrant Status  May 7 2009 USCIS announced earlier this week that it has revised Form I-914, the Application for T Nonimmigrant Status. The newly revised form is dated 3/30/2009. Previous editions of Form I-914 will be accepted for 30 days, states USCIS. The final date that these previous editions will be accepted is June 6, 2009.The T nonimmigrant category enables temporary entry for international visits who are victims of severe forms of trafficking and, in some cases, their immediate family members. The revision to the form was required because of statutory changes recently made, but not reflected in the previous version of the form. USCIS notes that there will most likely be an additional new edition of the form, due to more recent statutory changes, not reflected in the current version.]]> Thu, 07 May 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Updates H-1B Numbers; 45,000 Petitions Received http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_h-1b_numbers%3B_45%2C000_petitions_received http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=352 USCIS Updates FY 2010 H-1B Numbers; 45,000 Petitions Received  Apr 29 2009 USCIS has just updated information regarding the number of H-1B petitions it has received for Fiscal Year 2010. According to USCIS, as of April 27, 2009, the government agency has received roughly 45,000 H-1B petitions that would be counted against the annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visa numbers for the fiscal year. As a reminder, USCIS has already received and accepted roughly 20,000 petitions from individuals with master’s degrees or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education; that cap-exempt category has been filled for FY 2010.On April 9, USCIS had roughly 42,000 petitions; only 3,000 additional petitions have been received since that date. While it would appear that the amount of petitions submitted is fairly stagnant, it is important to note that 6,800 of the total 65,000 available H-1B petitions are reserved for Chilean and Singaporean nationals. Employer interested in submitting cap-subject H-1B petitions should plan on filing their petitions as soon as they can.]]> Wed, 29 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Swine Flu Suspends U.S. Consular Services in Mexico http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/swine_flu_suspends_u.s._consular http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=353 U.S. Consulate Services in Mexico Suspended Until May 6  Apr 29 2009 In response to the recent outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico, the U.S. Department of State has announced that it will suspend all visa and passport appointments at the U.S. Embassy and all of its Consulates in Mexico through May 6, 2009. This announcement is precipitated by a previous announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that strongly urges U.S. citizens to limit their travel to Mexico.Individuals with appointments scheduled between April 27 and May 6 will receive emails from the Embassy/Consulate’s scheduling center with a request to reschedule. Appointments may also be rescheduled by calling 1 (800) 719-2525.]]> Wed, 29 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Senators Durbin and Grassley Unveil H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/durbin_grassley_h-1b_visa_reform http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=354 Senators Durbin and Grassley Introduce Legislation to Amend H-1B and L-1 Visa Programs  Apr 24 2009 Yesterday, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2009, a bipartisan designed legislative act that aims to reform the H-1B and L-1 visa programs. The Durbin-Grassley bill would make changes to the H-1B program by requiring that all employers who wish to hire H-1B workers would need to first make a good-faith attempt to recruit a qualified U.S. worker for the position. The bill would restrict U.S. employers from using H-1B workers to displace qualified U.S. workers. In addition, the bill would prohibit the practice of posting employment ads calling for H-1B only candidates and would prohibit employers from hiring additional H-1B or L-1 workers if more than half of their current workforce are H-1B and L-1 visa holders. In addition, new processes would be established to investigate, audit and penalize visa abuses. “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 two senators had introduced a bill similar to the current one last year; that bill failed to become law.]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Updates Number of H-1B Petitions Received for FY 2010 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_number_of_h-1b_petitions_received_for_fy_2010_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=355 USCIS Updates Number of H-1B Petitions Received for FY 2010

 

Apr 22 2009

USCIS has again updated the number of filings for H-1B petitions for the Fiscal Year 2010 H-1B program. According to the government agency, roughly 44,000 H-1B petitions counting toward the annual cap of 65,000 have been received as of April 20, 2009. USCIS is continuing to accept H-1B petitions subject to this Congressionally-mandated annual cap.

USCIS has, in addition received roughly 20,000 petitions for H-1B visas from aliens with master’s degrees or higher from U.S. academic institutions. Even though the cap for this exempt category is 20,000, USCIS notes that they are continuing to accept applications from individuals that meet the category’s requirements.

Finally, USCIS notes that for cap-subject H-1B petitions filed with requests for premium processing during the initial five-day acceptance window, the 15-day premium processing period began April 7. For petitions filed after the initial five-day period, premium processing begins on the day that USCIS receives the petition.

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Wed, 22 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Delays Implementation of E-Verify Rule Again http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_delays_implementation_of_e-verify_rule_again_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=356 DHS Delays Implementation of E-Verify Rule Again

 

Apr 18 2009

On Friday, April 17, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would again postpone the mandate that all federal contractors (and their subcontractors) verify their employees’ employment eligibility using E-Verify, the government’s online electronic employment eligibility verification system. The requirement, which was supposed to have originally gone into effect on January 15. The Bush White House delayed it until February 20, and in late January, the Obama White House delayed it again, until May 21. The current delay would push the mandate back even further, this time until June 30.

After first being published as a final rule in the fall of 2008, the requirement that government contractors use E-Verify received criticism from a number of groups. Last fall, business groups that include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resource Management filed suit to block the implementation of the requirement on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

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Sat, 18 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Some Restrictions on U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Lifted by Obama http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/some_restrictions_on_u.s._policy_toward_cuba_lifted_by_obama http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=357 Some Restrictions on U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Lifted by Obama Administration

 

Apr 16 2009

The Obama administration announced this week that they will implement a series of changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba as a first step toward bridging relationships between the two nations. Policy changes in regards to U.S.-Cuba relationships include the lifting of all restrictions on transactions related to the travel of family members to Cuba, the removal of restrictions on the transmittal of money to family members in Cuba, the authorization of U.S. telecommunications’ network providers to make agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite communications facilities that link the U.S. and Cuba, and the addition of certain humanitarian items to the list of items eligible for export to Cuba.

In a press release announcing these changes, the White House stated, "In taking these steps to help bridge the gap among divided Cuban families and promote the freer flow of information and humanitarian items to the Cuban people, President Obama is working to fulfill the goals he identified both during his presidential campaign and since taking office."

The White House believes that, through provisions that enable the strengthening of relationships between Cuban Americans and their families in Cuba, we can foster the beginnings of grassroots democracy in that nation. "There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans," the press release stated. "Accordingly, President Obama will direct the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce to support the Cuban people’s desire for freedom and self-determination by lifting all restrictions on family visits and remittances as well as taking steps that will facilitate greater contact between separated family members in the United States and Cuba and increase the flow of information and humanitarian resources directly to the Cuban people."

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Thu, 16 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Claims iCERT Offers One-Stop Visa Services for Employers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_claims_icert_offers_one-stop http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=358 DOL Claims iCERT System Provides One-Stop Visa Services for Employers  Apr 10 2009 The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has announced the creation of a new, one-stop visa portal system. The iCERT System will give employers ease of access to employment-based visa application services and immigration news and information from OFLC.As of April 15, 2009, employers and their authorized representatives will be able to register with the iCERT System and create a account to file Form 9035E, the Labor Condition Application (LCA), used with H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 visa petitions. Additionally, OFLC has created a help desk unit at the Chicago National Processing Center to serve as a resource for employers submitting LCAs with the government.]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Will Continue to Accept H-1B Petitions for FY 2010 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_will_continue_to_accept_h-1b_petitions_for_fy_2010_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=359 USCIS Will Continue to Accept H-1B Petitions for FY 2010

 

Apr 8 2009

USCIS announced today that it will continue to accept H-1B nonimmigrant visa petitions for the Fiscal Year 2010 (FY 2010) annual cap. USCIS notes that it will continue to review the numbers of received H-1B petitions for the 65,000 standard cap and the 20,000 cap for petitioners with U.S. master’s degrees or higher. When the agency receives the necessary number of petitions to meet these caps for FY 2010, it will issue a notice to advise the public that the cap has been met by its specified final receipt date. That final receipt date will be based on the date that USCIS received the petition and not the date that the petition was postmarked.

USCIS will then randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the cap limits for the H-1B program for FY 2010 from all petitions received on or before the specified final receipt date. Cap-subject petitions not randomly selected will be rejected by USCIS, as will those petitions received after the final receipt date. Please note that petitions filed on behalf of H-1B workers who have previously been counted against an annual cap will not count toward the FY 2010 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to process petitions for H-1B workers (or those petitioning on their behalf) that wish to extend the amount of time they may remain in the U.S., change their terms of employment, change employers, or work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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Wed, 08 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
TSA Vetting Passengers for Secure Flight Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/tsa_vetting_passengers_for_secure_flight_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=360 TSA Starts Vetting Passengers as Part of the Secure Flight Program.  Apr 4 2009 The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced last week that it has started the Secure Flight program, a program that transfers the management of pre-departure watch list matching from individual aircraft operators to TSA. As of March 31, 2009, TSA has taken over watch list matching responsibilities for passengers on domestic commercial flights for four aircraft operators. The management of these lists for additional operators will be shifted to TSA in the coming months."The implementation of Secure Flight is a critical step towards mitigating threats we know exist in our aviation system," said Gale Rossides, acting administrator of TSA. "Secure Flight improves security and protects passenger privacy and civil liberties by ensuring the confidentiality of government watch list matching protocols."Under the Secure Flight program, airlines will collect a passenger’s full name, date of birth, and gender when making an airline reservation. TSA then determines whether that passenger is a match to the No Fly or Selectee lists. This, according to TSA, ensures that the program provides a fair and consistent matching process across all airlines. Travelers that feel they have been incorrectly matched to either of these lists are encouraged to seek redress through the Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry program. More information about this program is available online at www.dhs.gov/trip. ]]> Sat, 04 Apr 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DOJ Offers Funds to Address Immigration Discrimination http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/doj_offers_federal_funds_to_addr http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=361 Federally-Funded Grants Available for Public Service Organizations Working in Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination  Mar 27 2009 This week the Justice Department announced that it will be providing grant funds for public education programs regarding immigration-related employment discrimination. The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), a section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, has just announced that it aims to fund programs created and managed by public service and other organizations that provide information services to employers and employees that may be victims of immigration-related employment discrimination.The Immigration and Nationality Act clearly prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, and recruiting or referring for a fee in the workplace on the basis of citizenship status or national original for all citizens and non-citizens that are authorized to work in the U.S. The deadline for grant applications is April 26, 2009. Last year, the Justice Department awarded grants in amounts ranging form $40,000 to $100,000 to 11 organizations across the country.]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS to Accept H-1B Petitions for FY 2010 on April 1 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_accept_h-1b_petitions_for_fy_2010_on_april_1 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=362 USCIS Will Start Accepting H-1B Petitions for FY 2010 on April 1, 2009  Mar 24 2009 USCIS announced late last week that it will begin accepting H-1B petitions for the Fiscal Year 2010 cap on April 1, 2009. All petitions will be considered accepted by USCIS on the date that the federal organization receives the petitions in the mail, not on the date the petitions are postmarked. Up to 65,000 H-1B petitions will be issued for Fiscal Year 2010. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions that are filed on behalf of applicants that have received masters’ degrees or higher from U.S. institutions of higher learning will be exempt from the annual cap.Please note that petitions for H-1B employment in institutions of higher education or related nonprofit entities, or at nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations may be exempt from this annual cap. Requests for H-1B employment in these types of organizations may be submitted for either Fiscal Year 2009 or Fiscal 2010 and will not count toward the annual cap.In addition, please note that USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker can remain in the U.S., change the terms of employment for a current H-1B worker, allow current H-1B workers to change their employers, or allow current H-1B workers to concurrently work in a second H-1B position. ]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson CIS Ombudsman Recommends EB-5 Investor Visa Changes http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ombudsman_eb-5_investor_visa http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=363 CIS Ombudsman Calls for Changes to Strengthen the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program  Mar 20 2009 A report from the Citizenship and Immigration (CIS) Services Ombudsman provides a series of recommendations for USCIS to stabilize and strengthen the Employment Creation EB-5 immigrant visa program. This program, which allocates 10,000 immigrant visas under the EB-5 category each year, currently only issues 1,000 or less of these visas per year. This underutilization of the program, the Ombudsman comments, is caused by multiple determinants. The published recommendations could potentially strengthen the program.The following recommendations were made by the CIS Ombudsman:(1) Finalize regulations to implement the special 2002 EB-5 legislation, which would give certain subgroups of EB-5 investors a clear pathway to fix deficiencies in their previously submitted applications.(2) Publish Standard Operating Procedures for Form I-526, the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and Form I-829, the Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, that would specifically direct EB-5 adjudicators to not reconsider or re-adjudicate the indirect job creation process in cases at Regional Centers where there is no clear error or the evidence of fraud. (3) Categorize more EB-5 Administrative Appeals Office decisions as “precedent/adopted” decisions in order to give relevant individuals a more clear understanding of how existing USCIS regulations relate to “given factual circumstances.” (4) Increase the amount of formal rulemaking that would create rules that would promote stakeholder and investor confidence in the EB-5 adjudication process and in the consistency of that process. (5) Create an inter-governmental advisory group that would consult on domestic business, economic and labor concerns related to EB-5 cases. (6) Implement a special handling package option (with a fee) that would give EB-5 investors an option to request a more speedy adjudication of their EB-5 applications. (7) Make the review and processing of all Regional Center EB-5 petitions/applications a priority to support the immediate creation and preservation of jobs in the U.S. (8) Create a program that would promote the EB-5 program internationally. The CIS Ombudsman was established by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and provides an independent analysis of problems faced by individuals and employers with U.S. immigration issues. The Ombudsman analyzes these issues and proposes potential changes that might alleviate these issues. The goal of this report is to make suggestions that can be immediately implemented to strengthen the overall U.S. economy. ]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson E-Verify Requirement for Federal Contractors Postponed http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/e-verify_requirement_for_federal_contractors_postponed http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=364 E-Verify Requirement for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Postponed Again  Mar 18 2009 The new E-Verify requirement, that would have required certain federal contractors and subcontractors to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees using the government’s E-Verify online system, has once again been postponed. The rule, which was originally postponed from January 15, 2009 to February 20, 2009 has now been pushed back again. The initial postponement was caused by federal court litigation that sought to make it an invalid rule. The Obama administration, in response to concerns over the E-Verify requirement, have asked for additional time to review the requirement. The rule is now postponed until May 21, 2009 and may not be implemented at all, based on the results of the executive review of the requirement and the E-Verify program.Until that date, participation by businesses, including federal contractors and lay companies, in the E-Verify program remains voluntary. The only exception to this is for employers with businesses in states that have laws requiring the use of the E-Verify program. ]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Omnibus Appropriations Bill Extends EB-5 and E-Verify http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/omnibus_appropriations_bill_extends_eb-5_and_e-verify http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=365 Senate Passes Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Extends EB-5 and E-Verify Programs  Mar 12 2009 On March 9, the U.S. Senate passed the Fiscal 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill by a voice vote. This bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in late February is expected to be signed into law by President Obama shortly. In relation to immigration, the appropriations measures in the bill include a provision to extend the EB-5 regional center program and the E-Verify basic pilot program, both until September 30, 2009. Important to note, however, is that the appropriations bill did not include extensions for the Religious Worker or Conrad 30 (J-1 waiver) programs. It is possible that these programs will be extended in an additional measure sometime in the future.]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Updates Reference Materials for Naturalization Test http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_reference_materials_for_naturalization_test_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=366 USCIS Updates Reference Materials for Naturalization Test

 

Mar 11 2009

This week, USCIS updated reference material for individuals seeking naturalization. Included in the update are a number of publications, documents and reference material. These updates include the following:

1) An updated Guide to Naturalization: Included in the updated guide is a document revision that reflects the new requirement that applicants are required to submit Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, to a USCIS lockbox for processing. The English version of this publication is available online at www.uscis.gov/natzguide.

2) The Citizen’s Almanac: USCIS has update the Citizen’s Almanac, to include a new message from the director of USCIS. An English version of this publication is available online at: www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-76.pdf.

3) Naturalization Tests: USCIS has additionally updated its reference material for the new naturalization test. Included in this update of materials are new study versions of the test, available online in English (www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/100q.pdf), Spanish (www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/100q_spanish.pdf), Chinese (www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/100q_chinese.pdf), Tagalog (www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/100q_Tagalog.pdf ) and Vietnamese (www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/100q_Vietnamese.pdf).

4) Additional updated materials include flash cards (www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-623_red.pdf), a civics lesson study book (www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-638_red.pdf), and vocabulary lists for the English reading test (http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/reading_vocab.pdf), and the English writing test (http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/writing_vocab.pdf).

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Wed, 11 Mar 2009 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS to Reform, Become More Efficient, Says White House http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_to_reform%2C_become_more_efficient%2C_says_white_house_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=367 DHS to Reform, Become More Efficient, Says White House

 

Mar 5 2009

The White House recently published a press release in which the executive branch has outlined its agenda for reform at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In the release, the White House noted that Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, last month ordered an efficiency review of the entire Department. According to the White House, the review will “make the Department work better by promoting efficiency, reducing duplication, and improving customer service in DHS functions.”

According to the release, examples of DHS efforts show that the agency can pinpoint inefficiencies and efficiencies in the way it functions, in order to function in a more cost-effective manner. A few of the aspects of DHS provided as examples in the press release include the following:

Building Design: Customs and Border Protections is currently working with the General Services Administration to standardize the design for port of entry buildings, so that there is a reduction in cost and an increase in the efficiency of operations and maintenance at these ports of entry.

Technological Enhancements: DHS has partnered with the Secret Service, along with private industry and educational organizations to digitize more than 9,000 ink samples in order to improve the effectiveness of criminal and terrorist investigations.

Contractors: DHS has identified that it uses more contractors than it needs and has commented that it intends to internalize much of the work it formerly outsourced to private industry.

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Thu, 05 Mar 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Microsoft General Counsel Addresses Layoffs and H-1Bs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/microsoft_attorney_layoffs_h-1b http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=368 Microsoft’s General Counsel Provides Insight Into the Effect of Lay-Offs on Its H-1B Program  Mar 5 2009 On March 3, Bradford Smith, General Counsel for Microsoft Corp., responded to Sen. Charles Grassley’s request for more information about the company’s plans to eliminate up to 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months.The full text of Smith’s response is online at: http://microsoftontheissues.com/cs/blogs/mscorp/archive/2009/03/03/microsoft-responds-to-senator-grassley.aspx.Highlights of the letter include Smith’s statement that the lay-offs planned by Microsoft will occur here in the U.S. and throughout the world, with the largest amount of lay-offs occurring in Washington State (where the largest amount of Microsoft employees work). Smith reiterated that lay-offs would affect U.S. and non-U.S. citizens alike and employees inside the U.S. and throughout the world.In addition, in his letter, he reinforced Microsoft’s belief and support of the H-1B program, stating the importance of companies like Microsoft being able to continue recruiting exceptional talent from throughout the world: “H1-B employees have always accounted for less than 15 percent of Microsoft’s U.S. workforce, the level that is used in immigration law to determine whether a company is “H-1B dependent.” Nonetheless, the ability to tap into the world’s best minds has long been essential to our success. Although they are a small percentage of our workforce, H-1B workers have long made crucial contributions to Microsoft’s innovation successes and to our ability to help create jobs in this country. We are confident this will continue to be true in the future.” Smith also commented in his letter that Microsoft does not plan to reduce significantly the proportion of H-1B employees in its workforce after this planned lay-off of 5,000 employees. ]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS, FBI Work to Reduce Name Check Backlog http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis%2C_fbi_work_to_reduce_name_check_backlog_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=369 USCIS & the FBI Continue to Work Together to Reduce Backlog of Name Checks  Mar 4 2009 USCIS has now published that, in partnership with the FBI, the backlog for name checks that have been pending for more than six months has been eliminated. This is the fourth milestone met by USCIS and the FBI in their joint goal to completely eliminate all backlogged name checks, says the federal agency.Sixteen months ago, there were nearly 350,000 pending name checks, with roughly 150,000 of those pending for over six months. As of February 28, 2009, all requests from USCIS to the FBI for name checks that had been pending for more than six motnhs have been responded to by the FBI’s National Name Check Program. In April 2008, USCIS and the FBI announced that they would work together to prioritize work as they aimed to eliminate all pending name checks. Both agencies are currently on schedule to continue to reach their milestones. They propose to clear all name check requests pending for more than 90 days by May 30, 2009 and to clear 98 percent of all name check requests pending for more than 90 days by May 30, 2009 and to clear 98 percent of all name check requests within 30 days and the rest within 3 months by June 30, 2009. ]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Requiring Employers to Use New I-9 Form http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_requiring_employers_to_use_new_i-9_form_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=370 USCIS Requiring Employers to Use New I-9 Form

 

Mar 2 2009

The U.S. government is requiring that all employers use a new version of the Employment Eligibility Verification form, Form I-9, as of April 3, 2009. The new form is required for use for all new employees hired on or after April 3, and for all existing employees that need temporary employment authorization documentation to be re-verified on or after that date. If you use an old version of the I-9 form, you may be fined by USCIS.

The new I-9 form includes changes based on recent regulation amendments. As of April 3, expired documents will not be considered acceptable forms of identification verification on the I-9 form. In addition, the new I-9 form contains a revised list of documents that employers may use to establish the employment eligibility of their employees.

Some of the new documents accepted as proof of eligibility include foreign passports with an I-551 permanent residence mark printed on a machine-readable immigrant visa and the newly created U.S. Passport.

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Mon, 02 Mar 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Stimulus Bill Limits New H-1Bs for TARP Fund Recipients http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/stimulus_bill_limits_new_h-1bs_for_tarp_fund_recipients http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=371 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Places Certain Prohibitions Regarding the Hiring of H-1B Workers  Feb 25 2009 Early last week, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. The act, a massive spending bill that allocates nearly $800 billion in federal funds and tax cuts to aid the country in recovering from the current economic slump. As part of the act, limitations have been placed on recipients of funds from the Troubled Assets Relief Program or certain other federal funds from; these recipients will be severely restricted in their ability to hire new H-1B temporary workers.According to the act, recipients of these funds must be considered “H-1B Dependent” employers. Under current H-1B dependent regulations, employers are prohibited from displacing U.S. workers during the 90-day period before and after filing H-1B petitions. In addition, they are prohibited from placing an H-1B worker with another employer that has displaced a U.S. worker within a 90 day period before and after that job placement.Finally, the employer is required by law to take what is called “Good Faith Steps” to recruit U.S. workers for jobs they propose to fill with an H-1B worker; any U.S. worker who applies for and is at least equally qualified for the position must be hired over the proposed H-1B worker.]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DHS Final Rule on Employment Authorization for Enlistees http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_final_rule_on_employment_authorization_for_enlistees http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=372 DHS Publishes Final Rule Regarding Employment Authorization/Verification of Aliens in the Armed Forces  Feb 24 2009 The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has amended its regulations regarding employment authorization for aliens that are enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces. In a final rule published recently, DHS states its final rule will provide for employer-specific employment authorization for some aliens that are lawfully enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces and those whose enlistment the Secretary of Homeland Security considers vita to the national interest of the U.S. In addition, the final rule adds the military identification card as an acceptable document for establishing employment eligibility and identity in the completion of Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification form. Note that this card is only valid as verification when the Armed Forces is using the card as a means to verify employment eligibility of aliens that are lawfully enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces. This rule became effective on February 23, 2009. ]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Obama Voices Interest In Comprehensive Immigration Reform http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/obama_voices_interest_in_comprehensive_immigration_reform_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=373 Obama Voices Interest In Comprehensive Immigration Reform

 

Feb 20 2009

In a recent interview on the Univision Spanish-language radio show, Piolin por la Manana (Piolin in the Morning), President Obama informed host Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo that he soon intends to address the topic of comprehensive immigration reform.

“It’s going to take some time to move that forward, but I’m very committed to making it happen,” said Obama. In addition, Obama commented to Sotelo that his administration intends to start the process of drawing up new legislation for comprehensive immigration reform over the next several months.

Sotelo, a well-known radio host in the Latino community was a strong supporter of the last attempt at comprehensive immigration reform, the Kennedy-McCain Bill of 2007.

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Fri, 20 Feb 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Regional Center Option for EB-5 Investors to Expire http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/regional_center_option_for_eb-5_investors_to_expire http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=374 Regional Center Proposals Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program to Expire  Feb 19 2009 Earlier this week, USCIS posted a reminder that Regional Center provisions related to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot program will expire at midnight on March 6, 2009. This expiration date will affect all Regional Center proposals and some Forms I-526, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Entrepreneurs, and Forms I-485, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, related to Regional Centers’ reliance on indirect job creation analyses. The previous five-year extension of the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program was set to expire on October 1, 2008; however legislation approved just before that date extended the program until march of this year. If this ‘sunset’ date is not extended again, those affected Regional Center sponsors and some Regional Center affiliated I-526 petitioners will no longer be able to benefit from indirect job creation after March 6. In addition, no new Regional Center proposals will be accepted by USCIS as of March 7, 2009. ]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Fencing Between U.S. and Mexico Near Complete; Issues Remain http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._mexico_border_fence_issues http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=375 Fencing Between U.S. and Mexico Near Complete, but Issues Remain Feb 11 2009 The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has nearly completed fencing along the United States’ southwest border, a key component of the Secure Border Initiative, and the federal organization is now moving forward with the technological aspects of the initiative, says representatives of DHS. The final 66 miles of the fence will be completed in the next few months, says DHS, leading to a total of 670 miles of fencing between the U.S. and Mexico. The next step in the process is to begin utilizing sensors, cameras and control towers along the border to monitor activity.The technology component of the Secure Border Initiative will include towers that have radar stations, day and night cameras and data feeds from sensors in the ground that will enable DHS to monitor movements and actions near the fence between the two nations. These towers will be powered by solar energy and electricity when possible. While there are some issues with these new towers, DHS says, the issues are minor and the federal organization sees them as manageable. This spring DHS border patrol agents will test two towers in the Tucson, AZ area. Deployment will continue after the successful testing of these two stations with a complete installation aimed for 2011 or 2012. The Secure Border Initiative is not without its opponents, however, and some of those are within the U.S. government. The Government Accountability Office has voiced its concerns that the program is over budget and is facing massive scheduling delays. GAO has presented a letter to the U.S. Congress detailing these problems and its suggestion for ways to better use funds allotted for this program. In addition, the Secure Border Initiative may face opposition from the new secretary of DHS, Janet Napolitano. When governor of Arizona, Napolitano was not a supporter of the border fence initiative and may now use her newest station to hinder the progress of the controversial initiative. ]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DHS Publishes List of H-2B Eligible Countries http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_publishes_list_of_h-2b_eligible_countries http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=376 Secretary of Homeland Security Publishes Countries Eligible for H-2B Program  Feb 6 2009 Late last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule, “Changes to Requirements Affecting H-2B Nonimmigrants,” which gave the Secretary of Homeland Security the power to publish a list of ‘designated’ countries whose residents could be beneficiaries of H-2B visas in the U.S. The initial list, recently published, lists countries that are essential for the H-2B program’s success and have vocalized their cooperation in the repatriation of any of their residents that have received final orders of removal from the U.S. Under current regulations, only nationals of the countries on this list (or those that have made special arrangements with DHS) may apply for and be approved for H-2B status. Residents of the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2B program: Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Moldova, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Please note that this notice and the above list will not affect the immigration status of any nonimmigrant’s currently in the U.S. under H-2B status. ]]> Fri, 06 Feb 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson SCHIP Act Passes; Removes Health Insurance Waiting Period http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/schip_act_passes%3B_removes_health_insurance_waiting_period http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=377 U.S. Senate Passes State Children's Health Insurance Program Act to Remove 5-Year Waiting Period for Permanent Residents  Feb 3 2009 Last week, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which had been approved by the House of Representatives a week prior. The bill, which President Obama is expected to sign, will renew and expand the State Children’s Health Program, also known as SCHIP. SCHIP is a federal program that gives matching funds to states to provide health insurance for the children of families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance.The Act also includes a provision that would repeal the five-year waiting period for legal immigrants. Today, permanent residents of the U.S. are required to wait five years before they are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP. Once signed into law, this act will remove that waiting period provision and will open up the children of permanent residents to be eligible to receive this federally-funded health insurance coverage.]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Delays Implementation of I-9 Amendment http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_delays_implementation_of_i-9_amendment_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=378 USCIS Delays Implementation of I-9 Amendment

 

Jan 30 2009

USCIS has just announced that it will delay the implementation of its new I-9 requirement rule for sixty days, until April 3, 2009. The interim rule, titled "Documents Acceptable for Employment Eligibility Verification", was originally published in the Federal Register in mid-December 2008. The rule streamlined the process for employers to verify the employment eligibility of new employees. In addition to extending the implementation of the new rule, USCIS is reopening the public comment period for an additional thirty days, until March 4, 2009, to give concerned members of the public more time to share their thoughts on the bill.

Employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for every newly hired employee to verify their identity and confirm their authorization to work in the U.S. The interim final rule will, when implemented, amend regulations regarding the types of acceptable ID and employment authorization documents that employees can present to their new employers. Employers will no longer be able to accept documents that have expired as part of the I-9 verification process.

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Fri, 30 Jan 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
ICE's SEVP Response Center Now Open http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ice_opens_sevp_response_center http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=379 ICE’s SEVP Response Center Now Open  Jan 27 2009 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the SEVP Response Center (SRC) began its operations on Monday, January 26, 2009. The SRC is a new effort by ICE to expand its services to its stakeholders. The Center’s employees, according to Ice, are “knowledgeable in a variety of issues related to the F and M visa categories.” These staff members can help stakeholders with questions related to initial certification, re-certification, Optional Practical Training, SEVIS and F- & M-related policies.SRC staff members, according to ICE, are available to answer questions from Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST. They can be reached directly at (703) 603-3400. ICE comments that there will soon be a toll-free number to reach the SRC.]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Advocates Press Obama to Begin Immigration Reform http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/advocates_press_obama_to_begin_immigration_reform http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=380 Immigration Reform Advocates Call On President Obama to Begin Immigration Reform  Jan 22 2009 Immigrants and advocates of immigration reform supported President Barack Obama’s run for president in droves and now that Obama has been sworn in, many advocates are seeking his support for the cause of immigration reform. This Wednesday, as Obama was sworn into office by Chief Justice John Roberts, thousands of immigration advocates gathered to call upon Obama and his administration to start the process of making sweeping changes to immigration policies in the U.S.Among the calls to action requested by the advocates, who gathered in San Antonio, Texas and throughout the country, are an end to worksite and home raids conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the closure of Hutto Detention Center, the Texas-based detention center for immigrant children and their families. ]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Janet Napolitano Takes Oath as DHS Secretary http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/janet_napolitano_takes_oath_as_dhs_secretary http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=381 Janet Napolitano is the New Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security  Jan 21 2009 On Wednesday, January 21, 2009, Janet Napolitano was sworn in as the new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Napolitano was formerly the Governor of Arizona. Ms. Napolitano has an extensive background in political service and homeland security. Prior to her governorship, she had served as the Attorney General of Arizona and the U.S Attorney for the District of Arizona. Napolitano was one of the lead organizational heads of the investigation into the Oklahoma City domestic terrorism incident. In addition, as Governor of Arizona, she implemented one of the first State homeland security strategies in the U.S. and has made a number of legislative changes to issues related to immigration enforcement.Napolitano received a J.D. in 1983 from the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, she served as a law clerk for Mary M. Schroeder, the Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and as an associate at the law firm, Lewis and Roca. Napolitano was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association and has previously chaired the Western Governors Association. ]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Major U.S. Ports of Entry Now Collecting Ten Fingerprints http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/major_u.s._ports_of_entry_now_collecting_ten_fingerprints_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=382 Major U.S. Ports of Entry Now Collecting Ten Fingerprints

 

Jan 16 2009

This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that biometric technology at major U.S. ports of entry have now been upgraded from a two- to a ten-fingerprint collection standard. This upgrade process began in 2007 as an effort to make entry into the U.S. more efficient and accurate.

"Since 2004, biometrics have facilitated legitimate travel for millions of visitors entering the United States," said Robert Mocny, director of the US-VISIT program. "The 10 fingerprint upgrade makes this proven system even more efficient and enhances the security of our nation."

Biometric information, including digital fingerprints and photographs, have been collected by immigration officials for nearly five years from all non-U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 79 year olds when applying for visas or arriving at major U.S. ports of entry, with just a few exceptions. State consular officials started collecting ten fingerprints from visa applicants in 2007. The upgrade has occurred in result of an interagency partnership between Homeland Security, FBI, the Department of Defense and the State Department, whose collaborative efforts, DHS says, has helped to prevent the use of fraudulent documents, protect visitors from identity theft and stop thousands of criminals and immigration violators from entering the U.S.

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Fri, 16 Jan 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Announces New Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_announces_new_guam-cnmi_visa_waiver_program_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=383 DHS Announces New Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program

 

Jan 15 2009

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an interim final rule that would replace the current Guam Visa Waiver Program (VWP) with a new program for both Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The new interim rule also gives the U.S. Customs and Border Protection the capacity to establish up to six new ports of entry in the region to administer and enforce the new VWP.

The revised, interim final rule, which is scheduled to start June 1, 2009, allows eligible nonimmigrant visitors to enter Guam and the CNMI without a visa for business or leisure travel. In addition, it will extend visiting time from 15 to 45 days. The current Guam VWP will remain in effect until the implementation date of this new rule.

Please note that travelers wishing to enter Guam and the CNMI under the new rule will be required to posses a valid and unexpired, machine-readable passport, along with a valid and completed Form I-94 and Form I-736. Travelers must not have previously violated the terms of any previous admission to the U.S.

Individuals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the new, Guam-CNMI VWP:

Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and the United Kingdom (including Hong Kong).

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Thu, 15 Jan 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces It Has Reached the H-2B Visa Cap for the Sec http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_it_has_reached_the_h-2b_visa_cap_for_the_sec http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=384 USCIS Announces It Has Reached the H-2B Visa Cap for the Second Half of FY 2009

 

Jan 8 2009

USCIS announced today that it reached the cap for the second half of Fiscal Year 2009 for the H-2B visa. This cap of 33,000 petitions was reached on January 7. New petitions for H-2B visas will no longer be accepted for the second half of FY 2009; potential applicants will have to request petitions for the first half of FY 2010.

The H-2B visa gives U.S. employers involved in industries with peak load, seasonal or temporary needs the capacity to utilize temporary nonimmigrant workers to fulfill their staffing needs. H-2B visa workers typically work in areas such as construction, farming, health care, landscaping and hospitality services. In 2005, the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act was passed; this Act divided the visa category’s annual cap of 66,000 available visas into two halves. USCIS enables companies to submit these filings six months in advance of the staffing need.

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Thu, 08 Jan 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
EB-5 Petitions Should Now Be Filed at California Service Cen http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/eb-5_petitions_should_now_be_filed_at_california_service_cen http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=385 EB-5 Petitions Should Now Be Filed at California Service Center Only

 

Jan 8 2009

USCIS has notified individuals interested in filing an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Application that all EB-5 petitions should now be filed only at the organization’s California Service Center (CSC). Materials filed with an old location will be forwarded to the CSC until the end of a grace period, that will soon be published in the Federal Register.

All new EB-5 petitions and regional center application materials should be submitted to the CSC at the following addresses:

Direct Mail:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services California Service Center
ATTN: EB-5 Processing Unit
P.O. Box 10526
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0526

Private Couriers:

U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services California Service Center
ATTN: EB-5 Processing Unit
24000 Avila Road, Room, 2nd Floor
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

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Thu, 08 Jan 2009 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
US Business Groups File Lawsuit Against New E-Verify Require http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/us_business_groups_file_lawsuit_against_new_e-verify_require http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=386 US Business Groups File Lawsuit Against New E-Verify Requirement for Government Contractors

 

Dec 31 2008

Last week a number of business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Council on International Personnel and the HR Policy Association, filed a lawsuit against Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The lawsuit purports that DHS can not legally require federal contractors to use the E-Verify online worker verification system.

Recently, DHS issued a mandate (signed into law by President Bush) that some federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to use the E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of all new hires and some continuing hires as of January 15, 2009. The lawsuit, filed on December 23, is asking the U.S. District Court to proclaim that the executive order illegal due to the fact that the law states that no persons or businesses should be required to participate in the E-Verify online program, with the exception of federal agencies, the legislative branch of the U.S. government and some groups that have previously violated immigration law.

The new system, the lawsuit claims, would create a significant burden on many companies required by the new law to use the E-Verify system. DHS, however, has stated that the current lawsuit is simply a method to delay the active requirement that some federal contractors and subcontractors use the E-Verify system in January 2009. E-Verify is already successfully being used by more than 90,000 employers, said a spokesperson of DHS.

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Wed, 31 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Updates Number of H-2B Visas Petitions Received for th http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_number_of_h-2b_visas_petitions_received_for_th http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=387 USCIS Updates Number of H-2B Visas Petitions Received for the Second Half of FY 2009

 

Dec 30 2008

USCIS has updated the count of H-2B visa petitions received and counted toward the H-2B cap for the second half of FY 2009. According to USCIS, as of December 26, 2008, 29,702 petitions have been counted toward the 33,000 available visas for this fiscal year period. This is an increase of more than 2,000 petitions since the last count. On December 19, 27,111 petitions had been counted toward the cap.

The H-2B visa gives U.S. employers involved in industries with peak load, seasonal or temporary needs the capacity to utilize temporary nonimmigrant workers to fulfill their staffing needs. H-2B visa workers typically work in areas such as construction, farming, health care, landscaping and hospitality services. In 2005, the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act was passed; this Act divided the visa category’s annual cap of 66,000 available visas into two halves. USCIS enables companies to submit these filings six months in advance of the staffing need.

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Tue, 30 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Revision to Location to File Certain Application http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_revision_to_location_to_file_certain_application http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=388 USCIS Posts Revision to Location to File Certain Applications for Naturalization

 

Dec 24 2008

USCIS has revised its Direct Mail Program; now, certain filings of Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, should be fined at a designated lockbox facility, as opposed to a USCIS Service Center. In addition, spouses of current members of the U.S. Armed forces should now file their Application for Naturalization at the Nebraska Service center, regardless of whether you are filing from within or outside the U.S.

Please note that USCIS’s notice does not change the filing location for Applications for Naturalizations filed by members and some veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who are eligible to apply for naturalization based on their military service. Those individuals should continue to file their Applications for Naturalization at the Nebraska Service Center, regardless of their location. This notice will become effective January 22, 2009.

If you reside in the following states or regions:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Territory of Guam and the Northern Marina Islands

You should mail your application to:

USCIS Lockbox Facility
USCIS
PO Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ

If you are using courier or express mail deliveries, you should mail your application to:

USCIS
Attn: N400
1820 Skyharbor Circle S, Floor 1
Phoenix, AZ 85034

If you reside in the following states or regions:

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands

You should mail your application to:

USCIS Lockbox Facility
USCIS
PO Box 299026
Lewisville, TX 75029

If you are using courier or express mail deliveries, you should mail your application to:

USCIS
Attn: N400
2501 S State Hwy 121, Bldg #4
Lewisville, TX 75067

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Wed, 24 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
An Update on Current USCIS Office Closings http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/an_update_on_current_uscis_office_closings_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=389 An Update on Current USCIS Office Closings

 

Dec 19 2008

A number of USCIS offices are closed today due to inclement weather. USCIS has noted that the following offices are closed today:

Detroit, Michigan Field Office
Milwaukee, Wisconsin Field Office
Seattle, Washington Field Office

In addition, the Southeast Application Support Center in Houston, Texas remains closed due to severe damage caused by Hurricane Ike.

USCIS also notes that all USCIS offices and Application Support Centers will be closed on Thursday, December 25 and Friday, December 26 to observe the Christmas holiday.

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Fri, 19 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes Interim Rule Making Changes to Form I-9 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_interim_rule_making_changes_to_form_i-9_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=390 USCIS Publishes Interim Rule Making Changes to Form I-9

 

Dec 15 2008

USCIS announced late last week that it has submitted an interim final rule to streamline the I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification process. This interim final rule will limit the number of documents accepted to provide proof of identity; in addition, it clarifies that expired documents will not be accepted as proof of identification. According to USCIS, by limiting the list of documents acceptable as proof of identification, the organization is making it easier for employers to verify valid and acceptable forms of identification and to rule out false documents.

U.S. employers are required by law to complete a Form I-9 for all new employees to verify their identity and that they have authorization to work in the U.S. There are three lists of accepted documents in the form’s instructions: documents in List A verify identity and employment authorization; documents in List B verify just identity; and documents in List C verify just employment authorization.

This interim rule will eliminate as acceptable forms of identification Forms I-688, I-688A and I-688B, the Temporary Resident card (and older versions of the Employment Authorization card). These cares are no longer issued by USCIS; all cards that have been issued are now expired. In addition, the interim rule adds to the first list of acceptable documents (List A) foreign passports that contain marked and machine-readable visas and documentation for some citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Finally, the interim rule makes a series of additional changes, including revisions to the employee attestation section and the addition of the U.S. Passport Card to the first list.

Employers will be required to use the revised Form I-9 for all new hires and to re-verify any existing employees with employment authorization that has expired within 45 days of publication of this rule in the Federal Register. Once this 45 day period has passed, the current version of Form I-9, dated June 5, 2007, will no longer be valid.

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Mon, 15 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S. to Recruit Nonimmigrants for Doctor, Nurse and Foreign- http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._to_recruit_nonimmigrants_for_doctor%2C_nurse_and_foreign- http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=391 U.S. to Recruit Nonimmigrants for Doctor, Nurse and Foreign-Language Specialist Roles in U.S. Military

 

Dec 12 2008

The U.S. Military has started renewed efforts to recruit more foreigners living in the U.S. under legal status to assist in certain wartime duties for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The U.S. Military is currently facing a shortage of doctors and nurses to provide much needed medical care to U.S. troops and personnel with foreign language skills to assist in foreign countries.

The new program, which would open up the potential recruitment force for the military, has certain requirements. To be eligible under the program, an applicant must have lived under legal status in the U.S. for at least two years as a refugee, asylum seeker or under ‘temporary protected status. Alternatively, the applicant could have been in the U.S. for two years under particular other nonimmigrant categories. In addition, the applicant cannot have traveled outside the U.S. for more than ninety days at a time within the two years prior to the first date of military service.

Doctors and nurses accepted under the new program will be required to serve a minimum of three years of active duty or a minimum of six years in the Selective Reserve. Foreign language specialists will be required to serve four years of active duty. In return for their service, these new enlistees would be provided with an accelerated path toward U.S. citizenship.

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Fri, 12 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces Changes to Streamline H-2A Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_changes_to_streamline_h-2a_program_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=392 USCIS Announces Changes to Streamline H-2A Program

 

Dec 11 2008

USCIS announced today that they plan to make a series of changes to the H-2A visa program to streamline the process of hiring temporary and seasonal agricultural workers. The final rule, which should be published shortly, will “facilitate the H-2A process for employers by removing certain limitations and will further encourage lawful employment,” according to USCIS.

U.S. employers use the H-2A visa program to gain access to foreign workers to fill temporary or seasonal agricultural positions, when U.S. workers are not available. Once a petition for an H-2A visa is approved, these employers can then hire foreign nationals to fill these roles for a certain period of time.

USCIS’s final rule will enhance the integrity of the H-2A program, including provisions to increase protection of both U.S. and foreign workers. The final rule includes methods to broaden H-2A employers’ capacity to petition for multiple, unnamed agricultural workers, extend the time that an H-2A worker can remain in the U.S. after the expiration of his/her H-2A period of stay from 10 to 30 days, and reduce the time that an H-2A worker must spend outside the U.S. before being eligible to re-obtain H-2A status from 6 to 3 months. Other key provisions include measures to prohibit H-2A employers and recruiters from charging any fees on H-2A workers as a condition of employment and measures that require an approved temporary labor certification to be connected to each H-2A petition.

This final rule will be published in the Federal Register shortly.

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Thu, 11 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S. Now Has More Than 18,000 Border Patrol Agents http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._now_has_more_than_18%2C000_border_patrol_agents_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=393 U.S. Now Has More Than 18,000 Border Patrol Agents

 

Dec 5 2008

After an intense recruitment drive, started after current president George Bush called for doubling of the Border Patrol workforce during his presidency, the U.S. Border Patrol now comments that it has reached that goal. Earlier this week, Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security announced that the agency now has just over 18,000 Border Patrol guards.

Parts of the recruitment drive included NASCAR sponsorships and billboards across the U.S. border with Mexico. While this achievement is a note of success for the Department of Homeland Security, some people note the challenges that lay ahead for this department. These challenges include the U.S. Border Patrol’s ability to adequately provide field training for this influx of rookie agents and a low supervisor to agent ration in the Patrol. Further, the Border Patrol has a very high attrition rate. Roughly 30 percent of all agents leave the Patrol within the first year and a half of their employment, which will require the Border Patrol to continue its recruitment efforts well into the future.

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Fri, 05 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
President-Elect Obama Announces Heads of Immigration Policy http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/president-elect_obama_announces_heads_of_immigration_policy_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=394 President-Elect Obama Announces Heads of Immigration Policy Working Group

 

Dec 3 2008

Last week, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he plans to create a number of policy working groups to help create proposals for multiple pending topics. One of those groups, the ‘immigration group,’ will be led by Alexander Aleinikoff and Mariano-Florentino Cuellar.

Aleinikoff, the dean of the Georgetown University Law Center and executive vice-presdient of Georgetown University, has years of experience in the field of immigration. During the Clinton administration, he served as general counsel and executive associate commissioner for programs at the INS (now USCIS). He was also a senior associate at the Migration Policy Institute.

Cuellar, currently a professor at Stanford Law School, previously held the position of senior advisor to the Under Secretary for Enforcement during the Clinton Administration. In that posting, he worked on topics related to domestic and international finance crime, border coordination issues and heeding corruption.

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Wed, 03 Dec 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Update of H-2B Visas Petitions Received for the http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_update_of_h-2b_visas_petitions_received_for_the_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=395
 

Nov 26 2008

Last week, USCIS posted an update as to how many H-2B petitions they have received and counted toward the H-2B cap limitation. As of November 21, 2008, a total of 10,265 petitions have been counted toward the 33,000 semi-annual cap for the second half of Fiscal Year 2009.

The H-2B visa gives U.S. employers involved in industries with peak load, seasonal or temporary needs the capacity to utilize temporary nonimmigrant workers to fulfill their staffing needs. H-2B visa workers typically work in areas such as construction, farming, health care, landscaping and hospitality services. In 2005, the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act was passed; this Act divided the visa category’s annual cap of 66,000 available visas into two halves. USCIS enables companies to submit these filings six months in advance of the staffing need.

Currently, 4,663 H-2B petitions have been approved and 5,602 petitions are pending. USCIS’s targeted beneficiary total is 50,000; a number they believe will result in a total of 33,000 approved and accepted H-2B visas for the second half of FY 2009, after taking in consideration withdrawals, denials and application revocations.

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Wed, 26 Nov 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Reminder to Some Foreign Nationals to Receive Ap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_reminder_to_some_foreign_nationals_to_receive_ap http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=396 USCIS Posts Reminder to Some Foreign Nationals to Receive Approval to Travel Abroad During the Holidays

 

Nov 26 2008

USCIS has issued a reminder that some applicants may be required to obtain Advance Parole prior to traveling abroad for the holidays. Advance Parole requests should be submitted on the Application for Travel Document, Form I-131, prior to the applicant leaving the U.S. to travel abroad. Advance Parole provides permission to individuals to re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad in order to leave the U.S. without abandoning pending applications for adjustment of status.

Those relevant individuals that choose to travel abroad during the upcoming holidays and are required to obtain Advance Parole should already have applied for and, potentially, received their authorization documents. Individuals that have not yet done so, USCIS guides, should not leave the U.S. without such documentation; they may not be able to re-enter the U.S. Finally, it is suggested by USCIS that individuals that have received Advance Parole should read the travel warning in Form I-131’s instructions relating to unlawful presence to ensure their travels will not lead to a three- or ten-year restriction of inadmissibility to the U.S.

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Wed, 26 Nov 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes Changes to the Religious Worker Visa Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_changes_to_the_religious_worker_visa_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=397 USCIS Publishes Changes to the Religious Worker Visa Program

 

Nov 21 2008

USCIS announced this week that it intends to make significant changes to the R-1 Religious Worker visa classification. In USCIS’ final rule, changes to the Religious Worker program will include the establishment of a requirement that employers submit a formal petition for temporary religious workers. In addition, the final rule includes provisions for increased inspections, evaluations, verifications and compliance reviews of religious organizations. The rule, in addition, will fulfill the Congressional mandate to eliminate and reduce fraud in religious organizations, said USCIS.

“Last year, we proposed revisions to the current regulations designed to safeguard the integrity of the religious worker program,” said Jonathan Scharfen, Acting Director, USCIS. “After careful consideration of the comments received from the public, we are confident that the final rule will not only help eliminate fraud from the program, but also will guarantee the continuation of an important and valuable program for genuine religious organizations.”

Prior to this final rule, foreign religious workers could request an R-1 visas at a consular post without any review of the religions organization or job offer in the U.S. This rule will require individuals seeking to enter the U.S. under this category to give to a consular officer an approved Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-129). Review of these cases in the U.S will, according to USCIS, provide the organization with the capacity to verify that the petitioner and the job offer are legitimate before issuing the visa to the religious worker and allowing that person to enter the U.S.

This final rule also reduces the initial period of admission for a nonimmigrant from three years to just 30 months, which, USCIS states, will allow them to review at an earlier time whether or not the terms of the visa have been met before extending the religious worker’s stay in the U.S.

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Fri, 21 Nov 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Issues Record Number of Student and Exchange Visitor Vis http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_issues_record_number_of_student_and_exch http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=398 Department of State Issues Record Number of Student and Exchange Visitor Visas in FY 2008

 

Nov 18 2008

The Department of State announced this week that in 2008 they issued a record high number of Student and Exchange Visitor visas. For Fiscal Year 2008, the Department of State issued more than 710,000 F, J and M student and exchange visitor visas, an increase of 9.1% as compared to the amount of visas issued in Fiscal Year 2007 and more than a 25% increase as compared to Fiscal Year 2001.

2008 marks the third fiscal year in a row that the Department of State has broken the record for Student and Exchange Visitor visa issuances. There was a nearly 40% increase in visas issued to Chinese National Students than in 2007 and a more than 25% increase in visas issued to students from the Middle East since last year.

According to the Department of State, “One of the foundations of the U.S. academic and scientific communities is vibrant international participation.” The Department remains committed to continuing to provide access to the United States’ highly regarded academic institutions for international students in the years to come.

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Tue, 18 Nov 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes Rule Requiring All Federal Contractors to Us http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_rule_requiring_all_federal_contractors_to_us http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=399 USCIS Publishes Rule Requiring All Federal Contractors to Use the E-Verify System

 

Nov 13 2008

USCIS announces that federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to use that agency’s E-Verify system to confirm the employment eligibility of many of their employees and new hires. Starting January 15, 2009, all federal contractors and subcontractors must verify through the E-Verify system all individuals hired during a contract period with the federal government and those current employees who will perform services for the federal government under a contract or subcontract.

All federal contracts that are awarded after January 15, 2009 and solicitations issued after that date will include a clause that clearly states government contractors are required to use E-Verify for employee eligibility verification. This clause will also be required for all subcontracts totaling $3,000 or more for services or construction. Contracts for less than $100,000 and those that are for commercially off-the-shelf products will be exempt form this requirement.

Any company not exempt from this clause will be required to enroll in E-Verify within 30 days of the contract award date and will be required to begin using E-Verify to confirm the legal work authorization of all their new hires and employees directly working on a federal contract.

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Thu, 13 Nov 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S. Department of Education Launches Free Online English Tr http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._department_of_education_launches_free_online_english_tr http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=400 U.S. Department of Education Launches Free Online English Training Tool

 

Nov 12 2008

This week, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new free website, U.S.A. Learns, to help immigrants learn English. USALearns.org will give the more than 11 million adults in the U.S. with low levels of English proficiency free access to English language training modules.

U.S.A. Learns will include an easily accessible web-based learning tool with simple directions and free instructional materials that will help adults learn basic English skills. These training modules can be used outside of a traditional classroom environment.

“America's limited-English adults will now have readily available materials to improve their literacy and help them become more productive workers, better parents, engaged community members and active citizens," said Troy Justesen, assistant secretary, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

The new website is part of President Bush’s 26 immigration reform goals announced in August of last year. Bush’s series of reforms included measures to increase the assimilation of new citizens and support immigrants’ learning the English language to increase the opportunities they can access in this country.

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Wed, 12 Nov 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Begins Process of Full Digitization of the Immigration http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_begins_process_of_full_digitization_of_the_immigration http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=401 USCIS Begins Process of Full Digitization of the Immigration Process

 

Nov 7 2008

Broad and sweeping changes are in play for the way that immigration is managed in the U.S. The Bush administration has just chosen IBM Corporation to head a major initiative to fully digitize the immigration process for the seven million visa, citizenship and work authorization applications received by the federal organization each year.

The $500 million initiative to change USCIS’s case management system from its current, paper-based system to a fully electronic system, according to USCIS, would drastically reduce the backlogs and delays currently faced by USCIS. This new initiative will be the foundation of USCIS’s new system of reducing the painful effects of bureaucracy and managing potential future changes in immigration regulations, including the Guest Worker program exhaustingly discussed over the past few years.

The choice of IBM to manage USCIS’s digitization of its case management system is the first step in transforming the way USCIS functions, says acting USCIS director, Jonathan Scharfen. We're proud of 2008 and the milestones we've met," said Scharfen. “But, much work remains."

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Fri, 07 Nov 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Centralized Email Address Created for Extensions and Ame http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_centralized_email_address_created_for_extensions_and_ame http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=402 New Centralized Email Address Created for Extensions and Amendments of H-2A Applications

 

Nov 6 2008

The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has notified the public that they have created an electronic mailbox for the processing of employer requests for extending or amending certified H-2A applications at the Chicago National Processing Center. All H-2A amendment and extension requests, according to the OFLC, should go through the new centralized mailbox to maintain more consistency and greater efficiency in the process of the adjudication of these requests.

The address for the new, centralized mailbox is: H2a.amend&extend.chicago@dol.gov.

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Thu, 06 Nov 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Fee Structure for SEVIS Students and Schools http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_fee_structure_for_sevis_students_and_schools_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=404 New Fee Structure for SEVIS Students and Schools

 

Oct 24 2008

On October 27, 2008, USCIS will implement a new fee structure for the SEVIS program (Students, Exchange Visitors and Schools). These new fees will fund a range of enhancements to the SEVIS program.

Foreign students applying for F, M or J visas, on October 27, will be required to submit the following SEVIS I-901 fees:

I-901 F-1/M-1 Visa Applicants: $200
I-901 J-1 Visa Applicants: $180
I-901 Special J Visa Categories: $35 (a subsidized amount)
I-901 Government Visitors: No payment

Schools petitioning for initial SEVP certification will be required to submit the following fees:

Petition Fees: $1,700 (these fees were previously $230)
Site Visit Fees: $655 per campus (these fees were previously $350)

Schools that have already received SEVP certification will be required to submit the following fees:

Petition Fees for Change of Ownership: $1,700 (these fees were previously $230)
Site Visit Fees for the Addition of a Campus: $655 (these fees were previously $350)
There is no fee for recertification.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Issues Final Supplemental Rule Regarding No-Match Letter http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_issues_final_supplemental_rule_regarding_no-match_letter http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=405 DHS Issues Final Supplemental Rule Regarding No-Match Letters

 

Oct 23 2008

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Supplemental Final Rule earlier today that gives additional information regarding their No-Match Rule. This rule, which was originally proposed in June 2006 and published as a final rule in August 2007, provides clarification for the steps responsible employers should take to resolve discrepancies they see in ‘No-Match’ letters issued by the Social Security Administration. In addition, the rule helps these employers comply with legal regulations that aim to stem the employment of unauthorized workers in the U.S.

There had been a pause in the implementation of this rule due to a preliminary injunction issued by a U.S. District Court last year. A supplemental proposed rule addressing concerns raised in the injunction was published earlier this year by DHS. DHS plans to return to that District Court shortly to request that the injunction be removed.

"The additional information in this supplemental rule addresses the specific items raised by the Court, and we expect to be able to quickly implement it," said Michael Chertoff, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security. "The No-Match Rule, along with E-Verify, will increasingly make the pleas of ignorance from businesses that seek to exploit illegal labor ring hollow, and equip their responsible competitors with the tools they need to hire and maintain a legal workforce."

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Thu, 23 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
President Bush Announces the Addition of Seven New Countries http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/president_bush_announces_the_addition_of_seven_new_countries http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=406 President Bush Announces the Addition of Seven New Countries to the Visa Waiver Program

 

Oct 17 2008

President Bush announced today that seven nations have met the requirements to be admitted to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Citizens of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea will soon be able to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism without a visa. All of these countries currently allow U.S. citizens to travel to their countries without visas. In roughly one month, Bush said, the U.S. will extend the same courtesy to their citizens.

“For years the leaders of these nations have explained to me how frustrating it is for their citizens to wait in lines and pay visa fees to take a vacation or make a business trip or visit their families here in the United States,” said President Bush. “These close friends of America told me that it was unfair that their people had to jump through bureaucratic hoops that other allies can walk around.”

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Fri, 17 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
President Bush Extends Funding for E-Verify Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/president_bush_extends_funding_for_e-verify_program_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=407 President Bush Extends Funding for E-Verify Program

 

Oct 16 2008

Late last month, President Bush signed into law an over $630 billion continuing resolution to continue funding the budgets of a number of U.S. agencies until March 2009. As part of this resolution, funding for the E-Verify program would be extended until March 6 of next year. Both the Senate and the House approved this resolution days prior to the President signing it into law.

E-Verify is the U.S. government’s voluntary system that allows employers to verify and check the employment eligibility of new hires through the internet. The program was scheduled to end in November 2008 without extension or reauthorization. This resolution provides $100 million in funds and 255 positions for the E-Verify program.

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Thu, 16 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Michigan Works with DHS to Create Enhanced Driver’s Licens http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/michigan_works_with_dhs_to_create_enhanced_driver%E2%80%99s_licens http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=408 Michigan Works with DHS to Create Enhanced Driver’s License

 

Oct 14 2008

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the state of Michigan have been working together to enhance features of that state’s driver’s license as a potential alternative document for crossing U.S. land and sea borders. Earlier this week, DHS and Michigan reached an agreement to work together to create an enhanced driver’s license that will include information about the holder’s identity and citizenship that would be compliant with regulations of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

"With this agreement, Michigan’s leadership has shown both its innovative spirit and its commitment to national security,” said Stewart Baker, Assistant Secretary for Policy, DHS. “The state enhanced driver’s license will bolster security through advanced technology, and at the same time it will make travel faster and easier."

As part of this agreement, Michigan will develop and enhanced driver’s license that volunteer residents who apply and qualify for the document can use to verify identity when crossing U.S. land and sea borders. There will be an additional fee for this enhanced license, which will include additional security features that are seen on passports and passport cards. Interested applicants must present proof of their citizenship, identity and residence to receive the enhanced license.

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Tue, 14 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Immigration Court to Open in Charlotte, NC http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_immigration_court_to_open_in_charlotte%2C_nc_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=409 New Immigration Court to Open in Charlotte, NC

 

Oct 10 2008

After a long wait, a new immigration court is scheduled to open in Charlotte, NC on November 4. North Carolina has one of the fastest growing immigration populations in the United States and the lack of an immigration court has placed much unneeded stress on that state’s immigrant populations.

In 2007, North Carolina had 2,883 cases in immigration court; those individuals had to travel to Atlanta to see an immigration judge. “We have a backlog of 500 to 600 cases in our office any one day that we are trying to help,” said U.S. Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC). ““An immigration court will speed up illegal alien deportations …. It will also help legal immigrants playing by the rules because they will no longer have to travel to Atlanta to deal with immigration matters.”

The new immigration court will be located at 5701 Executive Center Drive in Charlotte. The city, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the Southeast, has a population of more than half a million people. The city’s new immigration court will cover immigration cases in North Carolina and may potentially cover cases in other, neighboring states. Currently, the Atlanta immigration court covers cases in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina.

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Fri, 10 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS to Delay Direct Mail Program for Naturalization Applic http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_delay_direct_mail_program_for_naturalization_applic http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=410 USCIS to Delay Direct Mail Program for Naturalization Applications

 

Oct 9 2008

Today, USCIS announced that it plans to delay the implementation of the N-400, Application for Naturalization, Direct Mail Program. A notice, to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, will officially announce this delay. In September 2008, USCIS published a notice that proposed to change the filing address for N-400 applications from USCIS Service Centers to two, newly created lockbox addresses in Arizona and Texas. As stated in that original notice, the new direct mail program was to be implemented on October 14, 2008.

This delay, according to USCIS, is due to the organization conducting additional tests of the technology utilized for the program. The September notice will soon be withdrawn; applicants should continue to submit their N-400 applications to the USCIS Service Center responsible for processing these applications for their region.

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Thu, 09 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
LCA Online Submission Web Site Now Requires Account Registra http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/lca_online_submission_web_site_now_requires_account_registra http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=411 LCA Online Submission Web Site Now Requires Account Registrations

 

Oct 6 2008

As of October 1 of this year, individuals that want to create and submit LCA Forms 9035 electronically on the Department of Labor’s website will be required to submit these forms through a created account. Prior to this change, individuals could create and submit LCA Forms without registering with the online system. This mandatory registration process will be free to users; simply click on the REGISTER link on the LCA submission section of the Department of Labor’s Web site.

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Mon, 06 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New WHTI Travel Widget Reminds Travelers of Documentation Re http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_whti_travel_widget_reminds_travelers_of_documentation_re http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=412 New WHTI Travel Widget Reminds Travelers of Documentation Requirements

 

Oct 3 2008

Earlier this week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced a new, desktop widget that reminds travelers to obtain required documents before their departure dates. As the travel date approaches, the widget will provide a countdown timer and weather at the traveler’s destination, along with reminding the traveler to obtain travel documents required by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. As part of that initiative, U.S. and Canadian citizens that enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean must present either a passport or an approved document, as of June 1, 2009.

“We are using a wide range of media vehicles, in addition to television and magazine ads, to ensure that all segments of the population are familiar with the travel document requirements under WHTI,” said Thomas S. Winkowski, Assistant Commissioner, CBP. “A digital strategy component allows CBP to reach audiences that are increasingly using the Internet as their source of news and information, especially related to travel. The widget, because it sits on the computer desktop, provides an ongoing and interactive reminder to travelers to get appropriate travel documents.”

The widget can be downloaded from the following web address: www.GetYourHome.gov.

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Fri, 03 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Bush Signs Into Law Act that Extends E-Verify and EB-5 Pilot http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bush_signs_into_law_act_that_extends_e-verify_and_eb-5_pilot http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=413 Bush Signs Into Law Act that Extends E-Verify and EB-5 Pilot Programs

 

Oct 1 2008

On September 30, President Bush signed into law a new resolution that extends funding for all government operations until March 6, 2009. The resolution, called the ‘Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009,’ was passed by both the house and Senate earlier last month. The bill includes extensions for the Basic Pilot/E-Verify Program and the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program, both of which will now remain active at least until the end of this extension period.

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Wed, 01 Oct 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Act Would Set Deadlines for Naturalization Application P http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_act_would_set_deadlines_for_naturalization_application_p http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=414 New Act Would Set Deadlines for Naturalization Application Processing Times for Military Personnel

 

Sep 30 2008

On September 28, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Military Personnel Citizenship Processing Act. This act, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Schumer (D-NY), will require that USCIS process and issue citizenship decisions within six months of the application receipt date for all current or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their surviving dependants. If USCIS does not make a decision during that specified time frame, the act would require the organization to explain the reason for the delay and provide a new target date for a decision.

In addition, the act, if signed into law by the President, would establish an FBI liaison office inside USCIS and would establish processing deadlines for other naturalization applications. This act received approval by voice vote from the Senate on September 24; it is now en route to the President for final approval.

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Tue, 30 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Americans in Pakistan Urged to Be Cautious; U.S. Embassy Ser http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/americans_in_pakistan_urged_to_be_cautious%3B_u.s._embassy_ser http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=415 Americans in Pakistan Urged to Be Cautious; U.S. Embassy Services Close Until Monday

 

Sep 26 2008

The U.S. Department of State has notified U.S. citizens that they will suspend all routine consular services at their Embassy in Pakistan, which started yesterday and will continue through today.

According to the Department of State, U.S. government personnel are no longer permitted to stay at or visit any major hotels in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi or Peshawar.

The U.S. Embassy will continue to provide emergency services to Americans in Pakistan, however. Individuals needed emergency services should call the Embassy switchboard at 92 51 208 0000. Americans who need more routine support, such as passports, should wait until Monday, September 29 to request such services.

Interviews: Interviews for immigrant and non-immigrant visas will be rescheduled until a later time. Applicants for immigrant visas will be contacted by the Embassy with further information. Applicants seeking non-immigrant visas should contact their local American Express or Speedex office to reschedule their employment.

The Embassy states implicitly in its notice that Americans in Pakistan should take precautions wherever they can to ensure security and safety. These precautionary measures could include the following:

“[Americans should maintain] good situational awareness, [avoid] crowds and demonstrations and [keep] a low profile. Americans should avoid setting patterns by varying times and routes for all required travel. Americans should ensure that their travel documents and visas are valid at all times.”

In addition, the Embassy strongly urges American citizens to register with the nearest Embassy or Consulate. Below, you will find contact information and particular information for each Embassy/Consulate in Pakistan, as provided by the Department of State:

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5; telephone (92-51) 208-0000 ; Consular Section telephone (92-51) 208-2700 ; fax (92-51) 282-2632, website http://islamabad.usembassy.gov

The U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, located at 8 Abdullah Haroon Road, closed its public operations indefinitely due to security concerns. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance should call the consular section in Karachi. Their telephone is (92-21) 520-4200 (after hours: 92-21-520-4400 ; fax 92-21-568-0496, website http://karachi.usconsulate.gov

The U.S. Consulate in Lahore is located at 50- Sharah-E-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees, (Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Rotary, telephone (92-42) 603-4000 or 603-4250, fax (92-42) 603-4200, website http://lahore.usconsulate.gov Email address: acslahore@state.gov

The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar is located at 11 Hospital Road, Cantonment, Peshawar; telephone (92-91) 526-8000 ; fax (92-91) 527-6712, website http://peshawar.usconsulate.gov fax (92-42) 603-4200, website http://lahore.usconsulate.gov Email address: acslahore@state.gov

The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar is located at 11 Hospital Road, Cantonment, Peshawar; telephone (92-91) 526-8000 ; fax (92-91) 527-6712, website http://peshawar.usconsulate.gov

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Fri, 26 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Reminder of Flexible Visa Programs in Cases of U http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_reminder_of_flexible_visa_programs_in_cases_of_u http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=416 USCIS Posts Reminder of Flexible Visa Programs in Cases of Unexpected Events in Visitors’ Home Countries

 

Sep 23 2008

USCIS has posted a reminder of the flexibility of certain nonimmigrant programs for international visitors who wish to extend their stay in the U.S. due to unexpected events in their home countries (for example, the recent severe weather in the Caribbean due to Hurricane Ike):

Nonimmigrant tourists and business visitors, when unexpected events occur in their home country, may request an extension of stay to extend their travel time. These visitors will need to explain in their request (on Form I-539, the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) how the event affected their ability to return home, how much longer they expect to remain in the U.S. and proof that they can support themselves while remaining in the U.S. during this extended period.

USCIS notes that it will also accept requests to change status for such individuals to that of a business or pleasure nonimmigrant visa (B1 or B2, respectively) when they are not able to simply extend their original visa. In addition, visitors paroled into the U.S. whose travel plans have been delayed due to inclement home country conditions may request an extension of parole by visiting a local USCIS office.

Foreign students, who are unable to continue to pay for their education due to an unexpected event in their home country, may request an off-campus employment visa (Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization).

Nonimmigrant individuals whose travel plans have been affected by unexpected events in their home country may request expedited processing of these applications.

 

 

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Tue, 23 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
2010 Diversity Visa Lottery Will Soon Accept Applications http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/2010_diversity_visa_lottery_will_soon_accept_applications_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=417 2010 Diversity Visa Lottery Will Soon Accept Applications

 

Sep 18 2008

The 2010 Diversity Visa Lottery’s online entry system will start at noon EST on October 2, 2008 and will end at noon EST on December 1, 2008. Persons seeking to enter the lottery program must register online through the designated Internet website during the registration period. Shortly, the Department of State will provide detailed information and instructions for the lottery. Please note that winners for the 2009 Diversity Visa Lottery were notified via mail between May and July of this year.

There is no fee charged for entering the Diversity Visa Lottery. The Department of State does not endorse, recommend or sponsor any information or material from outside entities. The Department is aware that websites and email have masqueraded as official Diversity Visa Lottery facilitators. Registration for the Diversity Visa Lottery through the official, U.S. government website, www.dvlottery.state.gov, is free of charge and notification of winning entries are sent by mail only.

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Thu, 18 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces New Filing Location for Applications for Nat http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_new_filing_location_for_applications_for_nat http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=418 USCIS Announces New Filing Location for Applications for Naturalization

 

Sep 16 2008

On September 15, USCIS announced that it is expanding the Direct Mail program to include Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization. Individuals filing non-military N-400 applications should file their application with the applicable Lockbox. USCIS is implementing a 30-day transition period; during this time, Service Centers will forward N-400 forms received at the incorrect Service Center to the appropriate Lockbox location. Please note that military applicants should continue to file their N-400 applications at the Nebraska Service Center.

Starting October 14, 2008, applicants will be required to file Form N-400 and supplemental N-400 files to one of the following two Lockbox locations:

Residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Territory of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands:

File your application with:

USCIS Lockbox Facility
USCIS
P.O. Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Private Courier

USCIS
Attn: N400
1820 E Skyharbor Circle
S. Floor 1, Phoenix, AZ 85036

Residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands:

File your application with:

USCIS Lockbox Facility
USCIS
P.O. Box 299026
Lewisville, TX 75029

Private Courier

USCIS
Attn: N400
2501 S. State Hwy 121, Bldg. 4
Lewisville, TX 75067

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Tue, 16 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Moves Detainees, Cancels Court Hearings Due to Hurrica http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_moves_detainees%2C_cancels_court_hearings_due_to_hurrica http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=419 USCIS Moves Detainees, Cancels Court Hearings Due to Hurricane Ike

 

Sep 10 2008

USCIS has noted that this morning Immigration and Customs Enforcement evacuated more than 250 detainees from its detention center in Willacy, Texas, due to Hurricane Ike. All remaining detainees will be evacuated by the end of the day. In addition courts and dockets throughout the potentially affected area are being canceled through this Friday.

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Wed, 10 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Leading Corporate Heads Call for House and Senate to Pass a http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/leading_corporate_heads_call_for_house_and_senate_to_pass_a_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=420 Leading Corporate Heads Call for House and Senate to Pass a New Immigration Reform Bill

 

Sep 10 2008

This week, more than 80 CEOs and presidents of U.S. companies signed and submitted a letter (with the Compete America coalition) that calls for the House and Senate to pass a bill that would recapture employment-based immigrant visas that were lost due to administrative delays. The bill, H.R. 5882, would also prevent losses of family- and employment-based immigrant visas in the coming years.

The letter, which was signed by 84 heads of U.S. corporations, calls for the measure to be passed this year by both houses.

“Failure to enact at least H.R. 5882 … will further hamper U.S. employers in the global competition for the world’s best talent, as more and more extremely valuable professionals from around the world take their education and abilities to other nations that strategically pursue policies to attract these individuals,” wrote the signatories. “The U.S. system sends the opposite message: Permanent resident status is extremely difficult to obtain, and even visas already authorized by law are not available.”

Signatories of the letter include Dan Burton, Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy, Salesforce.com; Safra Catz, President, Oracle; Jim Bidzos, Chairman & CEO, VeriSign; Thomas J. Donohue, President & CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Lisa M. Mascolo, US Country Managing Director, Accenture; Brian Schipper, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Cisco Systems, Inc.; and Richard K. Templeton, Chairman, President, and CEO; Texas Instruments.

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Wed, 10 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Customs and Border Protection Opens a New NEXUS Enrollment C http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/customs_and_border_protection_opens_a_new_nexus_enrollment_c http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=421 Customs and Border Protection Opens a New NEXUS Enrollment Center in Niagara Falls

 

Sep 5 2008

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced this week that it has opened a joint NEXUS Enrollment Center in Niagara Falls, NY. The new center is the second ‘Trusted Traveler’ enrollment center in the Buffalo area. The other center is located in Ontario, across the Peace Bridge. The Niagara Falls center was created to ease and make more convenient the process of obtaining a NEXUS border-crossing card for residents of both Canada and the U.S. that live near the center. In addition, the center can be used to renew NEXUS card applications, something that is required every five years.

The NEXUS program is a joint program between the U.S. and Canada aimed at enhancing border security while making the process of crossing the border easier for pre-approved travelers of low risk. More than 200,000 U.S. and Canadian citizens and residents are currently enrolled in the program.

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Fri, 05 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
ACLU Questions Validity of Rhode Island Order to Implement E http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/aclu_questions_validity_of_rhode_island_order_to_implement_e http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=422 ACLU Questions Validity of Rhode Island Order to Implement E-Verify Program for Vendors

 

Sep 4 2008

This week, Rhode Island’s state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legally challenged that state’s governor’s executive order that requires all vendors and contractors with the state to participate in E-Verify, the Department of Homeland Security’s electronic employment eligibility verification program. The ACLU claims in their challenge that E-Verify is “riddled with significant flaws, and returns inaccurate information regarding the immigration and employment status of new hires – and particularly lawful foreign-born workers – at more than a minimal rate.”

After Governor Donald Carcieri’s March executive order, Rhode Island’s Department of Administration sent a notice to every individual and business on the state’s vendor registration list (in late July) that they had 45 days to provide certification that they and their subcontractors are registered with and use the E-Verify program to verify eligibility of their employees.

The ACLU’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and two professions at Rhode Island College who have vendor relationships with Rhode Island and are opposed to participating in E-Verify. The ACLU claims that Governor Carcieri’s order exceeded his executive authority by placing requirements on private businesses; in addition, the order, the ACLU claims, violated detailed statutes that govern the process by which the state manages its purchasing programs.

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Thu, 04 Sep 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Individuals with HIV Still Limited from Entering the U.S. http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/individuals_with_hiv_still_limited_from_entering_the_u.s._ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=423 Individuals with HIV Still Limited from Entering the U.S.

 

Aug 27 2008

On July 30, 2008, President Bush signed into law an act that would no longer require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to designate HIV as a communicable disease of public health significance. However, HHS has, to this date, not yet removed HIV from its designation as this type of communicable disease.

Because of this lack of action on HHS’s part, individuals with HIV infection, as diagnosed by a civil surgeon or panel physician, are still required to file Form I-601, the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Refugees and Asylee applicants, are required to use Form I-602, the Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability.

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Wed, 27 Aug 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Revises Filing Instructions for Form I-751 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_revises_filing_instructions_for_form_i-751_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=424 USCIS Revises Filing Instructions for Form I-751

 

Aug 26 2008

Earlier this week, USCIS announced that it had revised the filing instructions for Form I-751, the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Effective August 25, 2008, all petitioners filing this form must file with either the California or the Vermont Service Center, depending upon their state of residence.

Residents of the following states should file their Form I-751 with the California Service Center:

Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

USCIS California Service Center
P.O. Box 10751
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1075

Residents of the following states should file their Form I-751 with the California Service Center:

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and West Virginia

USCIS Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden St.
P.O. Box 200
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001

On September 24, 2008, USCIS will only accept the revised form that is dated August 25, 2008; all previous versions of the form and all petitions filed with the wrong Service Center will be rejected.

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Tue, 26 Aug 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Withdraws Proposed Rule Amending the H-2B Visa Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_withdraws_proposed_rule_amending_the_h-2b_visa_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=425 USCIS Withdraws Proposed Rule Amending the H-2B Visa Program

 

Aug 20 2008

USCIS has just withdrawn a proposed rule that would amend H-2B regulations. The proposed rule, Petitions for Aliens to Perform Nonagricultural Temporary Services or Labor (H-2B), was published in late January of 2005. It proposed changes to USCIS regulations that aimed to increase the effectiveness of the H-2B program and provide additional protection for U.S. workers.

The proposed rule would have established a process for U.S. employers wishing to hire temporary H-2B workers to petition for those workers in a one-step process. With the rule, employers would have no longer needed to apply for labor certification from the Department of Labor and would have eliminated the use of agents as petitioners of H-2B visas. In addition, it would have required electronic filing of Form I-129, the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, within 60 days of the requested employment start date.

Based on public comments regarding the proposed rule, USCIS has withdrawn it and will soon publish a new, revised proposed rule regarding these new restrictions and policies.

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Wed, 20 Aug 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
ICE Provides Update on Scheduled Departure Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ice_provides_update_on_scheduled_departure_program_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=426 ICE Provides Update on Scheduled Departure Program

 

Aug 19 2008

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has provided an update to the public on its Scheduled Departure program, currently being piloted in five U.S. cities. The pilot program, which runs until August 22, is a way to enforce orders of removal without having to arrest and detain non-criminal fugitive aliens.

Immigration fugitives interested in participating in this pilot program can call ICE at 1-866-880-6344 to see if they qualify for the program. Representatives will be available to answer questions in both English and Spanish.

The program, which takes place between August 5 and August 22, is being piloted in the following five cities: Charlotte, NC, Chicago, IL, Santa Ana, CA, Phoenix, AZ and San Diego, CA.

For more information, please visit: http://www.ice.gov/scheduled-departure/index.htm.

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Tue, 19 Aug 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CDC Posts Shortage of Zoster Vaccine http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cdc_posts_shortage_of_zoster_vaccine_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=427 CDC Posts Shortage of Zoster Vaccine

 

Aug 14 2008

On August 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated USCIS that they currently do not have any Zoster vaccines due to manufacturer shipping delays. The Zoster vaccine was added to the list of required vaccinations for international applicants age 60 and older that was updated on Form I-693, the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination record. This vaccine was required of these individuals on July 1 of this year.

Please note that, until CDC provides additional notices, Form I-693 may be accepted, even if it is missing the Zoster Vaccine. Civil Surgeons should note on the form the following statement: “Vaccine not available.”

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Thu, 14 Aug 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Homeland Security Opens Electronic System for Travel Authori http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/homeland_security_opens_electronic_system_for_travel_authori http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=428 Homeland Security Opens Electronic System for Travel Authorization for Volunteer Participation

 

Aug 13 2008

The Department of Homeland Security will be introducing the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) on a voluntary basis for individuals entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The Department of Homeland Security has informed the public that they will be introducing the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) on a voluntary basis for individuals entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The new system will be mandatory in January 2009 and will then require VWP travelers to use the online program to receive advance approval (at least 72 hours in advance of their travels) before entering the U.S. VWP travelers that use the ESTA program will be allowed to board transportation to travel to the U.S.; they will still pass through inspection at a U.S. port of entry.

This new program, which, again, is voluntary until January 2009, asks VWP travelers to visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, where they will provide their biographical and passport information, their VWP eligibility information and data regarding arrest records, communicable diseases and historical visa denials, if applicable. Currently, VWP travelers provide this information at a U.S. port of entry. ESTA data, once submitted, will be reviewed against relevant U.S. databases. The ESTA system should provide real-time eligibility determination for the VWP traveler.

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Wed, 13 Aug 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Subcommittee on Immigration Approves Three New Bills http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_subcommittee_on_immigration_approves_three_new_bills_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=429 House Subcommittee on Immigration Approves Three New Bills

 

Aug 5 2008

Last week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration reviewed a series of proposed immigration-related legislation and approved the following three bills to go to the full House Judiciary Committee for review.

The first bill, H.R. 6020, was sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and would amend the Immigration and Naturalization Act to enable soldiers who served in the military in the support of contingency operations to be eligible for naturalization. The bill passed the subcommittee by a vote of 6-3.

The second bill, H.R. 5882, also sponsored by Lofgren, proposes to recapture employment- and family-based immigrant visas that were unused due to bureaucratic delays so that these visas are not lost again in the future. This bill passed by a vote of 8-1.

The final bill, H.R. 5924, sponsored by Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL) proposes to make available 20,000 employment-based visas each year for three years for nurses wishing to provide allied healthcare in the United States. This bill passed the subcommittee by a vote of 7-2.

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Tue, 05 Aug 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House of Representatives Votes to Extend E-Verify Program fo http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_of_representatives_votes_to_extend_e-verify_program_fo http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=430 House of Representatives Votes to Extend E-Verify Program for Five More Years

 

Aug 4 2008

On July 31, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would reauthorize the E-Verify program for an additional five years; the program was previously slated to expire at the end of November of this year. This bill will now be forwarded to the Senate for their review and vote.

The bill, passed by a vote of 407-2, also includes a provision that would make sure the Department of Homeland Security provides reimbursements to the Social Security Administration for the use of their resources. In addition, the bill gives the Government Accountability Office the authority to conduct two studies of the E-Verify program: one study will look at the causes and effects of errors in the program; the other will look at the experiences of small businesses, nonprofit organizations and local municipalities that have used E-Verify to verify the employment eligibility of their workers.

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Mon, 04 Aug 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces New Interim Final Rule Prohibiting Multiple http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_new_interim_final_rule_prohibiting_multiple_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=431 USCIS Announces New Interim Final Rule Prohibiting Multiple H-1B Filings for the Same Employee

 

Jul 31 2008

USCIS submitted today an interim final rule to the Federal Register that would prohibit employers from filing multiple H-1B petitions for the same employee. This new rule, USCIS comments, would help make sure that companies filing annual visa cap-subject H-1B visas would have an equal chance to receive H-1B visas for potential international workers. USCIS, according to the new rule, would deny or revoke multiple petitions filed by an employer for the same worker; filing fees associated with those petitions would not be refunded.

Note, though, that this rule does not limit related employers (e.g.: a parent company and its subsidiary) from filing petitions for the same international worker for different positions, as long as there is a real business need for that person.

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Thu, 31 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Latest Numbers for H-2B Visas Received for the F http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_latest_numbers_for_h-2b_visas_received_for_the_f http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=432 USCIS Posts Latest Numbers for H-2B Visas Received for the First Half of FY 2009

 

Jul 30 2008

USCIS has updated the public on the latest count of H-2B petitions received. According to USCIS, as of July 28, 2008, a total of 34,677 petitions have been received and counted toward the 33,000 H-2B cap for the first half of Fiscal Year 2009. The organization also notes that 21,909 beneficiaries have been approved, with 23,768 still pending. The organization’s target for total beneficiary applications to approve to reach the 33,000 cap (allowing for withdrawals, denials and revocations) is 40,000.

The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers in industries that face peak loads, seasonal or intermittent labor needs to bring in additional temporary nonimmigrant workers to fill those needs. H-2B workers traditionally work in areas such as construction, health care, landscaping, lumber, manufacturing, food service and hospitality services. The H-2B visa cap allows for up to 66,000 H-2B visas to be provided each year. Note that petitions approved to extend an alien’s stay or change their terms of employment do not count against this annual cap limitation.

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Wed, 30 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Changes and Updates Vaccination Requirements for Those http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_changes_and_updates_vaccination_requirements_for_those http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=433 USCIS Changes and Updates Vaccination Requirements for Those Seeking to Adjust Status to Legal Permanent Resident

 

Jul 29 2008

On July 24, USCIS announced a revised list of vaccines required for applicants seeking to adjust their status to legal permanent residents. The change in required vaccinations comes from guidance received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to CDC, as stated in its revised Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeons for Vaccination Requirements, the following age-appropriate vaccinations have been added to the list of vaccinations required to adjust status to legal permanent resident: rotavirus; hepatitis A; meningococcal; human papillomavirus; and zoster.

This new requirement went into effect on July 1, 2008; however, CDC has approved a thirty-day grace period for medical exams conducted prior to August 1, 2008. On that date, though, these new vaccinations must be administered prior to an individual being granted adjustment of status.

USCIS has updated Form I-693, the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to include these new vaccines. The revised edition is dated June 5, 2008, and must be used on and after August 1, 2008 for all applicants seeking an adjustment of status to legal permanent resident.

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Tue, 29 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS to Provide Grants to Help States Prepare for REAL ID Act http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_to_provide_grants_to_help_states_prepare_for_real_id_act http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=443 DHS to Provide Grants to Help States Prepare for REAL ID Act

 

Jun 24 2008

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that they will offer nearly $80 million in grant funding to help states improve the security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification documents, as part of the new REAL ID requirements. Every state that requested funding for Fiscal Year 2008 will receive a portion of the grant funding.

The funding will help support projects such as improving the security of licenses, upgrading the security of facilities and updating document imaging and storing capacities. In addition, the funding will provide support for the development and testing of a verification hub that will let states send query requests to federal and non-federal institutions that issue identification documents to verify applicant source documents.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Passport Cards Now in Production and Distribution http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/passport_cards_now_in_production_and_distribution_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=434 Passport Cards Now in Production and Distribution

 

Jul 22 2008

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a joint statement today announcing that the new U.S. Passport Card is now being produced and being distributed. The U.S. Passport Card, according to the organizations, “is a convenient, wallet-sized document for land and sea travel between the United States and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.” Note that the Passport Card can not be used for international travel by air.

Starting June 2009, travelers entering the U.S. via land or sea will be required to show a single Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative-compliant document that displays both their citizenship and identity. The Passport Card will fulfill this requirement. In addition, the card will enable a more smooth travel process for frequent travelers (especially those living in border communities). Officials will be able to access photographs and other biographical data stored in secure government databases from a RFID chip included in the card.

Over 350,000 U.S. citizens pre-ordered the cards since the government started accepting orders in February of this year. More than 7,000 cards have already been mailed out and the remaining, according to the organizations, should be completed by the end of September 2008. After that date, the processing time for passport cards should be less than four weeks.

"We are pleased to offer Americans a choice of documents, the traditional passport book, and now the passport card, to meet their personal needs for international travel," said Janice L. Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. "The passport card is the newest addition to the Department's long history of providing secure, reliable services to the American traveling public."

"We have been working closely with the U.S. Department of State to be able to provide another type of secure identification that is vital to protecting our nation's borders" said Stewart Baker, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Policy. "The new passport cards will help facilitate legitimate travel while allowing our frontline personnel to focus more on those who may pose a threat."

The costs for Passport Cards are $45 for first-time adult applicants and $35 for children under the age of 16. Adults with currently valid passports can apply for Passport Cards by mail for $20.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Clarification of Exemption Eligibility for Appli http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_clarification_of_exemption_eligibility_for_appli http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=435 USCIS Posts Clarification of Exemption Eligibility for Applications for Waivers of Grounds of Inadmissibility

 

Jul 21 2008

USCIS has, as of late, received numerous Applications for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (Form I-601) without the appropriate application fee due to confusion regarding these applications’ regulations. According to USCIS, the ability to waive or exempt payment of the $545 fee applied only to applications from certain requests filed by some Vietnamese, Laotian or Cambodian applicants by October 28, 1983. Please note that this regulated, now years dated, was put into place in 1977 and is no longer valid.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
EOIR Urges Applicants to Use 9-Digit Registration Number whe http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/eoir_urges_applicants_to_use_9-digit_registration_number_whe http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=436 EOIR Urges Applicants to Use 9-Digit Registration Number when Filing Documents

 

Jul 20 2008

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) announced this week that, as of July 21, 2008, all documents filed with the EOIR’s immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) should include the alien’s nine-digit registration number. Note that for cases with a nine-digit number, all digits should be included with the documents. For those with only eight digits, a zero should be inserted as the ninth number. While documents will not be rejected in the near future for not including these numbers in the format stated above, EEOR strongly urges applicants to file their documents with the correct registration number format.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Votes to Lift Ban on HIV Travelers to U.S. http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_votes_to_lift_ban_on_hiv_travelers_to_u.s._ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=437 Senate Votes to Lift Ban on HIV Travelers to U.S.

 

Jul 17 2008

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to lift the ban on individuals with HIV visiting/immigrating to the U.S. The U.S. is one of just 12 countries to have a ban on HIV visitors and HIV is the only disease specifically mentioned as a restricted disease in U.S. immigration law. The U.S. shares this law with countries such as Libya, Russia. Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

“There’s no excuse for a law that stigmatizes a particular disease,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in a recent speech to the Center for Strategic & International Studies HIV/AIDS Task Force. Kerry, a co-sponsor of the recent bill to lift the HIV travel ban, also pointed out that it can be easier for people with Ebola or the avian flu to enter the United States.

The current bill, also sponsored by Oregon Senator, Gordon Smith (R), would equate HIV with other communicable diseases. With those diseases, decisions regarding admissibility are made by medical and public health experts and not consular and immigration officials.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Extends Initial Work Authorization for Refugees to Two http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_extends_initial_work_authorization_for_refugees_to_two http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=438 USCIS Extends Initial Work Authorization for Refugees to Two Years

 

Jul 12 2008

On July 11, USCIS announced that it would extend the validity period for initial work authorization documents for refugees to two years after their arrival in the U.S. Previous to this legislative change, refugees were required to seek renewal of their Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) after one year.

This new policy was put into place to help assuage the financial burden refugees face in this country. While there is no cost for the initial refugee EAD, refugees do incur $340 for each renewal application they submit. USCIS commented that refugees, on average, request a minimum of one extension of their EAD validity period prior to adjustment of status.

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Sat, 12 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Arizona Passes Legislation that Bars its Compliance with the http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/arizona_passes_legislation_that_bars_its_compliance_with_the http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=439 Arizona Passes Legislation that Bars its Compliance with the REAL ID program

 

Jul 8 2008

In mid-June Arizona joined roughly 12 other states in barring Arizona’s compliance with the REAL ID program, a federal program calling for a uniform standard for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona, voiced her concerns that REAL ID would cost at least $4 billion to implement, but the federal government, to date, has only provided for $90 million in funding to help Arizona and other states implement the identification program.

"My support of the REAL ID Act is, and has always been, contingent upon adequate federal funding," Napolitano wrote in a letter detailing her support for Arizona’s bar on compliance. "Absent that, the REAL ID Act becomes just another unfunded federal mandate."

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Tue, 08 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
South Carolina Passes Restrictive Immigration Legislation http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/south_carolina_passes_restrictive_immigration_legislation_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=440 South Carolina Passes Restrictive Immigration Legislation

 

Jul 6 2008

On June 4, a new bill was signed into law in South Carolina by that state’s governor, Mark Sanford. The new legislation, HB 4400, is an omnibus immigration bill that mandates a series of limitations and restrictions for that state’s undocumented populations. Included in the law are the following provisions:

1) Employers are now required to verify the identity of all employees either via a South Carolina driver’s license or via the national E-Verify system.
2) Clinics and hospitals funded by the state can no longer provide non-emergency medical care to undocumented adult immigrants. (Note that this provision directly counters federal law that states medical care should be given without any form of discrimination. The South Carolina law, however, has not given enforcement of this provision to any particular state agency.
3) Undocumented immigrants are not allowed to attend public universities or receive scholarships funded by the state of South Carolina.

The new immigration bill includes legislation similar to that seen in an Oklahoma law passed last year.

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Sun, 06 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Update on H-2B Visas Received for the First Half http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_update_on_h-2b_visas_received_for_the_first_half http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=441 USCIS Posts Update on H-2B Visas Received for the First Half of FY 2009

 

Jul 3 2008

On July 1, USCIS updated the count of H-2B petitions the organization received for the first half of Fiscal Year 2009. According to USCIS, as of July 1, 2008, 17,305 H-2B petitions have been received; the cap for the first half of FY 2009 is 33,000.

The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers in industries that face peak loads, seasonal or intermittent labor needs to bring in additional temporary nonimmigrant workers to fill those needs. H-2B workers traditionally work in areas such as construction, health care, landscaping, lumber, manufacturing, food service and hospitality services. The H-2B visa cap allows for up to 66,000 H-2B visas to be provided each year. Note that petitions approved to extend an alien’s stay or change their terms of employment do not count against this annual cap limitation.

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Thu, 03 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Implements Online FOIA Request Status Check http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_implements_online_foia_request_status_check_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=442 USCIS Implements Online FOIA Request Status Check

 

Jul 2 2008

USCIS has launched the new online FOIA Request Status Check service that offers customers a quick, secure method to check the status of requests they have made to the organization under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). With this new online program, customers, by entering their assigned control numbers, can receive immediate responses anytime regarding the status of their FOIA request.

Customers, after entering in their control number, will receive a response that states either ‘pending’ or ‘processing’. A ‘pending’ response lets the customer know the position of their request in relation to all other requests on that same processing track. A ‘processed’ response lets a customer know that their request was processed and they will be given a processing date. USCIS has noted that they will make daily updates to the status of all FOIA requests.

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Wed, 02 Jul 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Modern Day Immigrants Assimilate Faster than Immigrants of P http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/modern_day_immigrants_assimilate_faster_than_immigrants_of_p http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=444 Modern Day Immigrants Assimilate Faster than Immigrants of Previous Generations

 

Jun 23 2008

A new study sponsored by the Manhattan Institute, a New York-based think tank, shows that immigrants of the past 25 years have assimilated in the U.S. at a much faster rate than immigrants of previous generations. According to the report, current immigrants come to the U.S. with less ability to speak English and lower earning power than their immigrant forbearers, take on native-born traits at a greater speed than seen previously.

The study, which measured assimilation by investigating rates of U.S. citizenship and military service, economic factors such as salary rates and home ownership, and cultural factors such as the ability to speak English and intermarrying rates, shows that the level of immigration has consistently increased, with a distinct raise in assimilation rates seen since the early 1990s.

Study investigators purport that this increase in assimilation rates may be due to the economic expansion of the 1990s that created more job opportunities at all economic levels. Many new immigrants started economically at a very low level, enabling a faster increase in assimilation as they improved their personal economies. However, the investigators do note that assimilation rates seen in ethnic populations with high levels of undocumented residents, such as Mexicans, are much lower than those of ethnic populations with lower levels of undocumented residents; this, the investigators state, is most likely due to the fact that a large portion of the ways to assimilate are cut off and unavailable to those that are in the country illegally.

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Mon, 23 Jun 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Will Close Field Offices in Tijuana and Hong Kong http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_will_close_field_offices_in_tijuana_and_hong_kong_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=445 USCIS Will Close Field Offices in Tijuana and Hong Kong

 

Jun 18 2008

On June 18, USCIS announced that it will close its field offices in Tijuana, Mexico and Hong Kong. The Tijuana office will close on July 3 and the Hong Kong office will close on August 29. In preparation of these closings, each field office will stop accepting the following applications and transfer responsibility for these forms on the dates here listed:

Tijuana

Form I-130, the Petition to Classify Alien as an Immediate Relative: June 20. Applications will be forwarded to the Mexico City District office for processing.

Form I-407, the Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status: July 1. Applications will be processed by the U.S. State Departments and the form and documents will be forwarded to the Mexico City District office for destruction and system updates.

Form I-600, the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative: June 20. Applications will be forwarded to the Ciudad Juarez Field office for processing.

Form I-600A/I-800A, the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition: June 20. Applications will be forwarded to the Ciudad Juarez Field office for processing.

Hong Kong

Form I-130, the Petition to Classify Alien as an Immediate Relative: September 2. Applications will be managed and processed by the U.S. State Department Consular Section.

Form I-407, the Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status: June 23. Applications will be managed and processed by the U.S. State Department Consular Section.

Form I-600, the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative: September 2. Applications will be managed and processed by the U.S. State Department Consular Section.

Form I-600A/I-800A, the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition: September 2. Applications will be received by the U.S. State Department Consular Section and forwarded to the USCIS Bangkok District office for processing.

Re-Entry Permits sent to Hong Kong for Collection: September 2. Permits will be distributed by the U.S. State Department Consular Section.

Application for Boarding Letters (also known as Transportation Letters): September 2. These documents will be processing by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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Wed, 18 Jun 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Update on FY 2009 H-1B Visa Selection http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_update_on_fy_2009_h-1b_visa_selection_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=446 USCIS Update on FY 2009 H-1B Visa Selection

 

Jun 17 2008

USCIS has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the leading association for immigration lawyers, about various issues related to the Fiscal Year 2009 H-1B visa cap. According to a USCIS representative, with the exception of cases currently being reviewed as possible duplicate filings, all receipts have been issued for applications selected in the random H-1B lottery. Data entry was completed on May 23 and all receipts were mailed on May 24. Potential duplicate entry cases are current being reviewed by USCIS. There are currently 500 cases classified as potential duplicates. Each of these cases will be reviewed and decisions will be made on their status and classification. Finally, USCIS has commented that the number of petitions they selected during the random selection process was enough to reach the cap limit. USCIS will not need to use any reserves to reach the FY 2009 cap. Rejection letters are being mailed out this week.

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Tue, 17 Jun 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
All Federal Contractors Will Be Required to Use E-Verify http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/all_federal_contractors_will_be_required_to_use_e-verify_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=447 All Federal Contractors Will Be Required to Use E-Verify

 

Jun 11 2008

On June 9, the Department of Homeland Security announced that all federal contractors will be required to use E-Verify, the government’s electronic employment eligibility verification system, to verify the legal status of their new hires.

"A large part of our success in enforcing the nation's immigration laws hinges on equipping employers with the tools to determine quickly and effectively if a worker is legal or illegal," said Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. "E-Verify is a proven tool that helps employers immediately verify the legal working status for all new hires."

An executive order had been amended by President George W. Bush ordering all federal departments and agencies to require their contractors to agree to use the electronic eligibility verification system; in response to this executive order, Chertoff designated E-Verify as a required system of use for all companies choosing to work with the federal government. Comments regarding this new requirement will be accepted for 60 days.

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Wed, 11 Jun 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Validity for Some Employment Authorization Document to be Ex http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/validity_for_some_employment_authorization_document_to_be_ex http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=448 Validity for Some Employment Authorization Document to be Extended to Two Years

 

Jun 10 2008

In a recent speech during the State of Immigration Address, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the federal organization will be extending the validity period of employment authorization documents given to people waiting to adjust their status to lawful permanent residents. Currently, individuals seeking adjustment of status are given employment authorization documents with a one-year maximum validity period. In late June, these documents will be issued with a two-year validity period for individuals waiting for an adjustment of status if their applications are expected to be pending for more than one year.

“This … is eliminating a persistent source of frustration for workers who are here, who have a pending adjustment application but have to go and renew their employment documents every single year,” said Chertoff. “It’s going to cut the paperwork there.”

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Tue, 10 Jun 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Three New Updates http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_three_new_updates_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=449 USCIS Posts Three New Updates

 

Jun 6 2008

USCIS announced this week that it has centralized the processing of all naturalization applications to its National Benefits Center in Missouri. Forms N-400, the Application for Naturalization, should now be sent to the organization’s Missouri Benefits Center. USCIS also announced this week that it intends to issue new cards for the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection program. These new cards will include certain enhanced security features that will allow U.S. citizens to be in compliance with the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. A final change announced by USCIS this week is an address change of the organization’s lockbox to a new address in Chicago in late May. USCIS notes that the post office address will remain the same; however, mail delivered via private courier has change to:

USCIS:
Attn:
131 South Dearborn, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Please note that courier services have agreed to forward packages to the new address for 90 days, up to August 2008. USCIS has also noted that they will accept and process without delay cases that are otherwise properly filed.

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Fri, 06 Jun 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Opponents of the H-1B Visa Program File Lawsuit Challenging http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/opponents_of_the_h-1b_visa_program_file_lawsuit_challenging_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=450 Opponents of the H-1B Visa Program File Lawsuit Challenging Optional Practical Training Program

 

Jun 3 2008

The Department of Homeland Security’s recent extension of the time foreign students may work in the U.S. under a student visa is now being challenged in a federal lawsuit by opponents of the H-1B visa program. These opponents, who include organizations such as the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the Programmers Guild, the American Engineering Association and Brightfuturejobs.com, purport that the Bush administration’s extension of the length of student visa extensions from 1 year to 29 months via the Optional Practical Training program exceeded their legal authority and was simply a means to work around the current H-1B visa cap limit of 85,000 per year.

Prior to this recent legislative change, foreign national students traditionally worked for 1 year after graduating from a U.S. institute of higher education while their employers filed for H-1B visas for them. The extension of time allotted for the Optional Practical Training program allows for these individuals to remain in the U.S. for up to 29 months while awaiting an H-1B visa.

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Tue, 03 Jun 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Updates Form for Temporary Protected Status Applicants http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_form_for_temporary_protected_status_applicants http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=451 USCIS Updates Form for Temporary Protected Status Applicants

 

May 30 2008

USCIS reported this week that it has revised Form I-821, the Application for Temporary Protected Status. The new, revised form will be effective on June 27, 2008. Form I-821 is used by nationals of countries designated with Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. People applying for TPS for the first time and people applying to re-register for TPS use this form. The new form will include additional questions that will help USCIS better determine an applicant’s eligibility for TPS.

Previous editions of Form I-821 will be accepted through June 26, 2008. On and after June 27, only the revised form (with an October 17, 2007 revision date) will be accepted; all other versions of the form will be rejected.

TPS is a temporary immigrant status given to eligible nationals of certain countries who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country due to either armed conflict, an environmental disaster or another extraordinary, temporary situation. Beneficiaries of this status may stay and work in the U.S. as long as their country of origin remains under TPS.

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Fri, 30 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Updates Employment Authorization Document http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_employment_authorization_document_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=452 USCIS Updates Employment Authorization Document

 

May 28 2008

USCIS has updated Form I-765, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The revised form must be used by all applicants as of May 27, 2008. The form has been changed to include recent changes to F-1 visa holders seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT). Please note that Form I-765 has gone through multiple changes recently; it is essential that you verify the form you are using has a Revision Date of May 27, 2008. All applicants submitting Form I-765, regardless of whether or not they are F-1 visa holders seeking OPT, must use this new form.

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Wed, 28 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Customs and Border Protection Issued Misnumbered I-94 Cards http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/customs_and_border_protection_issued_misnumbered_i-94_cards_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=453 Customs and Border Protection Issued Misnumbered I-94 Cards at Ports of Entry in 2008

 

May 23 2008

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), early this year, apparently received roughly 1 million I-94 Arrival-Departure cards that were missing the first digit. These misnumbered cards were used by CBP and issued to individuals arriving through various ports of entry into the U.S. The misprints on these cards have led to the Social Security Administration’s refusal or delay of issuance of social security numbers to applicants who would have otherwise been eligible to receive these numbers. CBP has publicly noted that the misnumbered cards have been recalled and replaced. According to CBP, the cards were issued by Canada’s Calgary Airport; however additional cards may have been issued at other ports of entry.

Individuals who have misnumbered I-94 cards can request a new card directly from CBP either through a Deferred Inspection Site or at a port of entry. If you received an I-94 card from a port of entry in 2008, we recommend you verify that your card is printed with an 11-digit number (and not a 10-digit misprinted number). The card should display 9 digits, followed by a dash and then two additional numbers.

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Fri, 23 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Proposed Rule Would Make Changes to H-2B Program for Non-Agr http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/proposed_rule_would_make_changes_to_h-2b_program_for_non-agr http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=454 Proposed Rule Would Make Changes to H-2B Program for Non-Agricultural Workers and Nurses

 

May 21 2008

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration has proposed a series of changes to the H-2B visa program. The proposed rule would change the process in which employers requested entry into the U.S. for temporary nonagricultural-based and nursing workers under the H-2B program. The proposed rule would re-engineer the application filing and review process by centralizing processing and by letting employers conduct pre-filing U.S. worker recruitment activities. The rule would also enhance the integrity of the program by introducing post-adjudication audits and penalizations for employers who fail to meet the requirements of the visa program.

This rule would also implement certain technical changes to the H-1B and permanent labor certification regulations. While DOL does not have authority to enforce the following of H-2B regulations, there is the possibility that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and DOL could work out an agreement by which DHS could allow for DOL to enforce certain portions of the H-2B program.

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Wed, 21 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Proposed Rule Could Change H-2B Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/rule_could_change_h-2b_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=459 Proposed Rule Would Make Changes to H-2B Program for Non-Agricultural Workers and Nurses

 

May 21 2008

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration has proposed a series of changes to the H-2B visa program. The proposed rule would change the process in which employers requested entry into the U.S. for temporary nonagricultural-based and nursing workers under the H-2B program. The proposed rule would re-engineer the application filing and review process by centralizing processing and by letting employers conduct pre-filing U.S. worker recruitment activities. The rule would also enhance the integrity of the program by introducing post-adjudication audits and penalizations for employers who fail to meet the requirements of the visa program.

This rule would also implement certain technical changes to the H-1B and permanent labor certification regulations. While DOL does not have authority to enforce the following of H-2B regulations, there is the possibility that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and DOL could work out an agreement by which DHS could allow for DOL to enforce certain portions of the H-2B program.

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Wed, 21 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Immigration-Related Amendments Added to War Supplemental http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_immigration-related_amendments_added_to_war_supplemental http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=460 New Immigration-Related Amendments Added to War Supplemental Bill

 

May 16 2008

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee added a range of amendments to the war supplemental bill. A number of these amendments were related to immigration. These amendments include a smaller-scale version of AgJobs, introduced by Senators Craig (R-ID) and Feinstein (D-CA); a three-year returning worker extension for the H-2B temporary worker, program, introduced by Senator Mikulski (D-MD); an amendment that proposes to recapture employment-based immigrants visas and provide for early adjustment filing, introduced by Senators Gregg (R-NH) and Murray (D-WA); reauthorization of the EB-5 investor visa program, introduced by Senator Leahy (D-VT); and a funding program for border security, introduced by Senator Hutchison (R-TX).

Pundits note that many of these introduced amendments may not make it past a full debate in the Senate. However, the introduction of these various measures shows the Appropriations Committee’s interest in reformulating a range of immigration legislations.

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Fri, 16 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces Enhancements to Data Verification in the E-V http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_enhancements_to_data_verification_in_the_e-v http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=461 USCIS Announces Enhancements to Data Verification in the E-Verify Program

 

May 5 2008

USCIS announced on May 5 a series of improvements to the E-Verify employment authorization program that will reduce mismatch rates and streamline and increase program effectiveness. This announcement relates the first two of three enhancement phases of the program aimed at decreasing mismatch rates for naturalized citizens.

As of May 5, E-Verify will include naturalization data that will instantly help confirm the citizenship status of naturalized U.S. citizens hired by employers that utilize the electronic employment authorization verification program. Currently, naturalized citizens who haven’t yet updated their records with the Social Security Administration face more mismatches than any other group in E-Verify. E-Verify will, however, now include real time arrival data from the Integrated Border Inspection system; this will greatly reduce the number of immigration status-related mismatches for individuals who have legally entered the U.S.

“Less than one percent of all work-authorized employees receive a tentative nonconfirmation through E-Verify,” said Jonathan Scharfen, acting director of USCIS. “While this is a very small percentage, we believe every employee who is authorized to work in the United States should be instantly authorized by the program. We’re confident that the enhancements we’re launching today will help us achieve that goal.”

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Mon, 05 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Settles Class Action Lawsuit; Certain SSI Beneficiarie http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_settles_class_action_lawsuit%3B_certain_ssi_beneficiarie http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=462 USCIS Settles Class Action Lawsuit; Certain SSI Beneficiaries Can Request Expedited Green Card & Naturalization Processing

 

May 5 2008

Earlier this week, USCIS settled a class action lawsuit initiated by non-U.S. citizens who had either lost or were about to lose their eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to a seven-year limit and could not become U.S. citizens prior to losing their benefits. The lawsuit titled Kaplan, et al. v. Chertoff, et al. has led to a settlement agreement that took place on May 5 and will remain in effect until February 5, 2011.

As part of the settlement agreement, USCIS will now expedite Form I-485s (Applications to Register Permanent Status or Adjust Status) and Form N-400s (Applications for Naturalization) for current and former SSI beneficiaries in cases where applications have been pending with USCIS for more than 6 months. This expedited process will include an accelerated FBI name check and the prioritization of certain USCIS-related events, such as scheduling interviews. Cases for individuals who have I-482 or N-400s pending with USCIS for more than 6 months and have lost or will lose their SSI benefits will be expedited, even if applicants have not yet requested expedited processing.

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Mon, 05 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Three New Immigration-Related Bills Introduced in the House http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/three_new_immigration-related_bills_introduced_in_the_house_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=463 Three New Immigration-Related Bills Introduced in the House of Representatives

 

May 2 2008

In late April three new immigration-related bills were introduced in the House of Representatives. The first bill, introduced on 4/23/2008, proposes to recapture employment-based immigrant visas that were lost due to bureaucratic delays. The bill, titled H.R. 5882, was introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and aims to prevent future losses of family- and employment-based immigrant visas.

The second bill, also introduced by Representative Lofgren, was proposed on 4/29/2008. This bill, H.R. 5921, would eliminate the ‘per country level’ for employment based immigrants. The bill, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, proposes to “end the spill-over of unused immigrant visa numbers between employment-based and family-sponsored categories.”

H.R. 5924, introduced on 4/29/2008 by Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL), would provide much needed relief for the current shortage of nurses in the United States.

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Fri, 02 May 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Revises & Updates Two Essential Forms http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_revises_%26_updates_two_essential_forms_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=464 USCIS Revises & Updates Two Essential Forms

 

Apr 30 2008

This week, USCIS announced that it has revised two forms: Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-693, the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, based on legislation changes.

The new Form I-765 was revised this week to include additional eligibility codes, in accordance with a recent Homeland Security interim final rule regarding the duration of Optional Practical Training for F-1 nonimmigrant students. The older version of this form, published on July 30, 2007, will continue to be accepted by USCIS up to July 8, 2008; after that date, however, only the revised Form I-765, dated April 8, 2008, will be accepted by USCIS. All requests using previous versions of the form will be rejected by USCIS.

In addition, USCIS this week revised Form I-693, the Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. This form was revised based on changes to the Tuberculosis Component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeons. Form I-683, a medical form, shares with USCIS results of applicants’ medical examinations when they are filing for adjustments of status to become permanent residents. The form provides information essential for USCIS to ensure the applicants are not inadmissible to the U.S. due to public health reasons.

The new form lists seven tuberculosis classifications at the bottom of its first page. Civil surgeons should record the results of all medical examinations held on or after May 1, 2008 on the new form. Please note that the current vaccination supplement will not be accepted for any vaccination assessment conducted on or after May 1, 2008. More information about this new tuberculosis component is available online at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/civil.htm.

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Wed, 30 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Guidance Regarding Violence Against Women Act Self-Pet http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_guidance_regarding_violence_against_women_act_self-pet http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=465 USCIS Guidance Regarding Violence Against Women Act Self-Petitioners

 

Apr 24 2008

Earlier this month, USCIS issued a guidance notice to its adjudicators regarding Adjustment of Status applications filed by Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners currently in the United States who have not been inspected and admitted or paroled. According to the guidance, Adjustment of Status applications for approved VAWA self-petitioners will not be considered ineligible for adjustment of status just because a self-petitioner entered the U.S. without inspection and admission or parole. Further, the self-petitioner is not required to show that his or her illegal entry into the U.S. had a clear connection to the instance(s) of domestic violence, battery or extreme cruelty.

Based on this guidance, approved VAWA self-petitioners whose denied Adjustment of Status applications were filed on or after January 14, 1998, may file a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider using Form I-290B, if the sole reason for the denial of their request for adjustment was their illegal entry into the U.S.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) enables battered immigrants to petition for legal status in the U.S. without having to seek sponsorship from an abusive U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, parent or child. The VAWA program enables victims of abuse to self-petition to seek legal immigration status in the U.S. These individuals, whose self-petitions are approved are able to file for Adjustment of Status using Form I-485 directly with USCIS to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.

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Thu, 24 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Proposed Rule Would Require Travelers to Provide Digital http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_proposed_rule_would_require_travelers_to_provide_digital http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=466 New Proposed Rule Would Require Travelers to Provide Digital Biometrics Upon Departure from U.S.

 

Apr 22 2008

On April 22, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule that would create a biometric exit procedure at all U.S. sea and air ports of departure. While most individuals that are not U.S. citizens are currently required to provide digital fingerprints and photographs to enter the U.S., the new US-VISIT Exit proposal would require these same people to also provide these digital data when leaving the U.S.

“The 9/11 Commission called for biometric entry and exit records, because biometrics confirm that travelers are who they say they are and the purpose of their travel is as they claim it to be,” said Michael Chertoff, Secretary, Homeland Security. “We’ve built an effective entry system, and combined with the proposed exit system, we’ll have made a quantum leap in America’s border security. Air and sea carriers would actively participate in the proposed exit system, and I look forward to an ongoing dialogue on solutions to meet this key 9/11 Commission recommendation.”

This proposed rule would require all commercial air carriers and cruise line owners/operators to collect and transmit biometric information from international travelers to DHS within 24 hours of those individuals leaving the U.S. This new procedure is scheduled to be implemented by January 2009.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Extends Religious Worker Visa Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_extends_religious_worker_visa_program_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=467 House Extends Religious Worker Visa Program

 

Apr 17 2008

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed the Religious Worker Visa Extension Act of 2008, a bill that proposes to extend the ‘special immigrant non-minister religious worker’ visa program until January 1, 2010. In addition, the bill would provide an additional six-year extension of the religious worker program, as long as the Secretary of Homeland Security issues a final regulation that would control fraud in the visa program by end of 2008. The bill will now progress to the Senate and, if approved, to the President for final approval.

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Thu, 17 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Conducts Random Selection Process for FY 2009 H-1B Vis http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_conducts_random_selection_process_for_fy_2009_h-1b_vis http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=468 USCIS Conducts Random Selection Process for FY 2009 H-1B Visas

 

Apr 15 2008

Yesterday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted a computer-generated random selection process for H-1B petitions submitted for the Fiscal Year 2009 annual cap. H-1B petitions chosen during this selection process will continue to full adjudication. Individuals whose petitions have been chosen, if approved, will be eligible to enter the U.S. during FY 2009 under the H-1B program.

USCIS noted that they conducted two random selections, one for petitions qualifying for the 20,000 master’s or higher degree exemption category, and another for the general H-1B category that allows for 65,000 H-1B visas. This second selection process included all those master’s cap petitions not chosen in the initial selection, along with all other H-1B petitions submitted.

Roughly 163,000 petitions were received by USCIS during the April 1 to April 7 eligible filing period. Each petition was labeled with a unique numerical identifier. Individuals whose petitions were chosen should receive a receipt notice from USCIS by June 2, 2008. All unselected petitions will be returned with the filing fee, either to the petitioner or their authorized representative. USCIS plans for the total process of adjudication to take about eight to ten weeks. However, all petitions that filed with a request for premium processing, will be adjudicated within fifteen business days. The start date for that fifteen-day period will be April 14, the day the petitions were randomly selected.

Note, finally, that USCIS has placed some petitions in a ‘wait-list’ category. These petitions may be accepted for adjudication if some petitions chosen for the FY 2009 period are denied, withdrawn or found ineligible for other reasons. Petitioners whose cases are wait-listed will be notified of that status via a letter from USCIS. For each wait-listed petition, USCIS intends to either issue a receipt notice or return the petition with its fees within six to eight weeks.

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Tue, 15 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap for FY2009 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reaches_h-1b_cap_for_fy2009_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=469 USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap for FY2009

 

Apr 8 2008

In an announcement made earlier today, USCIS has informed the public that it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated cap of 65,000 H-1B visas for Fiscal Year 2009. In addition, USCIS has received more than the 20,000 advanced degree exemption cap visas for individuals with masters’ or higher degrees from U.S. institutions. USCIS will first complete the initial data entry of all H-1B petitions received between April 1 and April 7; the governmental organization will then begin the random selection process. At the current moment, USCIS is not sure on which specific day the random selection process will begin. Note that all petitions that are rejected will be returned to the applicants along with their filing fees.

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Tue, 08 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Annual Cap H-1Bs Submitted to the Wrong Service Center Will http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/annual_cap_h-1bs_submitted_to_the_wrong_service_center_will_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=470 Annual Cap H-1Bs Submitted to the Wrong Service Center Will Not Be Rejected

 

Apr 7 2008

Late last week, USCIS announced that it will not reject FY 2009 cap-subject H-1B petitions solely because they were received at the wrong service center. A petition sent by mistake to the California Service Center instead of the Vermont Service Center (or vice versa) will not, according to USCIS, be rejected solely on that error. However, this provision does not apply to petitions sent to either the Texas or Nebraska Service Centers.

USCIS has implemented this short-term measure solely for FY 2009 cap-subject H-1B petitions received at the wrong Service Center and only for those petitions received by USCIS prior to the close of business on the final receipt date. We’ll continue to update you on this season’s H-1B policies as they are published.

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Mon, 07 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS States a Goal to Complete One Million Naturalization C http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_states_a_goal_to_complete_one_million_naturalization_c http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=471 USCIS States a Goal to Complete One Million Naturalization Cases in FY 2008

 

Apr 4 2008

Earlier this week, USCIS announced that it intends to finish over one million naturalization cases during Fiscal Year 2008, a number much greater than the amount of naturalization cases completed last year. In addition, USCIS has amended the expected time it will take to complete naturalization cases. That time is now 13-15 months, as compared to the 16-18 point projected time period the agency offered six months ago.

“By the end of the year, I expect USCIS will have finished 36 percent more naturalization cases than last year without compromising national security or the integrity of the naturalization process,” said Emilio Gonzalez, director, USCIS.

Strategies for reaching this goal include expanding the agency’s workforce by nearly 3,000 new employees, positioning employees to work in the USCIS offices most affected by the influx of naturalization requests, quadrupling the available funding for overtime pay and using offices and staff of the Asylum Office to conduct naturalization interviews.

Last year, USCIS received an exorbitant amount of naturalization filings. From June 2007 to August 2007, USCIS received nearly three million filings. In the entire previous year, the agency only received 1.8 million filings.

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Fri, 04 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS and FBI to Work Together to Eliminate Name Check Backl http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_and_fbi_to_work_together_to_eliminate_name_check_backl http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=472 USCIS and FBI to Work Together to Eliminate Name Check Backlog

 

Apr 3 2008

USCIS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced this week a joint plan to eliminate the backlog of name checks pending with the FBI. The two agencies have developed a set of milestones that prioritize the workload based on the age of the pending name check. All name check cases that have been pending for more than four years have already been eliminated, says the FBI.

“This plan of action is the product of a strong partnership between USCIS and the FBI to eliminate the backlogs and to strengthen national security,” said Emilio Gonzalez, director, USCIS.

The two agencies have set a new goal of completing 98 percent of all name checks within a 30 day period. The remaining 2 percent will be jointly resolved by the agencies within a 90 day proposed period. USCIS and the FBI aim to reach this goal by June 2009 by implementing a range of strategies, including increasing staff, expanding resources and utilizing new business processes.

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Thu, 03 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
H-1B Filing Period Officially Open; Deadline Extended to Apr http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-1b_filing_period_officially_open%3B_deadline_extended_to_apr http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=473 H-1B Filing Period Officially Open; Deadline Extended to April 7

 

Apr 2 2008

Yesterday marked the first day that USCIS began accepting new H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2009 for H-1B petitions for new employment start dates on or after October 1, 2008. Note that this year, USCIS has extended the filing deadline for these petitions to April 7, 2008. Petitions for new H-1Bs that are not submitted by this date may not be considered for employment in the U.S. until the last quarter of 2009. All H-1B petitions received between April 1 and 7 will be picked via a random lottery; petitions not selected in the lottery will be returned with their filing fees.

Please note that this deadline date does not apply to foreign nationals currently under H-1B status; these individuals are open to extend their status or change employers irrespective of the annual H-1B cap. In addition, individuals from Singapore and Chile are subject to a separate cap, which is currently open and will remain open through this fiscal year. Finally, some employers, such as non-profits connected to universities and some healthcare facilities are additionally exempt from the FY 2009 H-1B cap.

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Wed, 02 Apr 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
An Update on the Upcoming H-1B Lottery http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/an_update_on_the_upcoming_h-1b_lottery_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=474 An Update on the Upcoming H-1B Lottery

 

Mar 28 2008

Businesses throughout the country await results from the upcoming H-1B random lottery. It is important to note a few minor changes and updates to H-1B regulations for Fiscal Year 2009. First, as stated in a previous news post, a new interim final rule has modified the selection process for all cap-subject H-1B petitions that prohibit employers from filing multiple H-1B petitions for the same employee.

In addition, the period for filing regular and advanced degree H-1B petitions has been expanded by USCIS to five business days, if USCIS receives enough petitions to reach the specified cap on any of those business days. Finally, it is important to note that the first 20,000 petitions received for foreign national applicants with a U.S. master’s or higher degree are exempt from the 65,000 H-1B standard cap.

USCIS has noted that, if the 20,000 master’s and higher degree cap and the 65,000 standard cap are reached during this five-business-day filing period, a lottery will first be held for those advanced degree cap petitions. After that lottery, an additional lottery of all cases (including those with advanced degrees that were not selected in the first lottery) will be held to fill the 65,000 cap.

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Fri, 28 Mar 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
H-1B Applications Lead to More U.S. Jobs, Says a New Report http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-1b_applications_lead_to_more_u.s._jobs%2C_says_a_new_report_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=475 H-1B Applications Lead to More U.S. Jobs, Says a New Report

 

Mar 24 2008

A report published earlier this month by the National Foundation of American Policy (NFAP), a non-profit public policy organization, shows that for each H-1B petition requested, U.S. high tech companies increase their U.S.-based workforce by an average of five workers. After reviewing all H-1B applications or LCA filings submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor between 2001 and 2005 by leading high tech companies, NFAP found that tech companies with 5,000 or more employees added an average of five workers for every H-1B request; companies with less than 5,000 employees averaged an increase of 7.5 workers for every H-1B request.

NFAP points out in their research publication that, based on data, it appears that new H-1B professionals entering the U.S. are complementing other U.S. hires and not displacing them, as many critics to the H-1B program have stated. According to NFAP, “preventing companies from hiring foreign nationals by maintaining an artificially low limit on H-1B visas is likely to produce the unintended consequence of pushing more work to other countries.”

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Mon, 24 Mar 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Homeland Security Publishes Guidance Regarding No-Match Lett http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/homeland_security_publishes_guidance_regarding_no-match_lett http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=476 Homeland Security Publishes Guidance Regarding No-Match Letters

 

Mar 22 2008

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just released a Supplemental Proposal Rulemaking for the No-Match Rule issued in August of last year. This supplemental document provides detailed information about how DHS developed the No-Match rule and gives responsible employers guidance on how to make sure they are not employing unauthorized workers.

The rule gives employers clear steps to take after receiving a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that an employee’s name does not match the social security number on file with SSA. If an employer follows certain actions to rectify this ‘no-match’, within 90 days of receiving the letter, they will be provided with a safe harbor from DHS and the no-match letter will not be used against them in any future enforcement.

"We are serious about immigration enforcement. The No-Match Rule is an important tool for cracking down on illegal hiring practices while providing honest employers with the guidance they need," said Michael Chertoff, Secretary, DHS. "This supplement specifically addresses the three grounds on which the district court based its injunction. We have also filed an appeal and are pursuing these two paths simultaneously to get a resolution as quickly as possible."

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Sat, 22 Mar 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes Interim Rule on Multiple H-1B Visa Filings http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_interim_rule_on_multiple_h-1b_visa_filings_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=477 USCIS Publishes Interim Rule on Multiple H-1B Visa Filings

 

Mar 19 2008

USCIS has just published an interim final rule that would prohibit employers from filing multiple H-1B petitions for the same employee. USCIS is implementing this change to make sure that companies filing H-1B petitions that are subject to congressionally mandated numerical limits have equal chances to gainfully employ H-1B workers. In order to make sure the minimal amount of available H-1B visas are equally and fairly distributed, USCIS has stated that it will deny or revoke multiple petitions filed by an employer for the same H-1B worker. Note that USCIS will not refund the filing feels submitted with multiple/derivative petitions. However, USCIS also states that “this rule does not preclude related employers (such as a parent company and its subsidiary) from filing petitions on behalf of the same alien for different positions, based on a legitimate business need."

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Wed, 19 Mar 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Microsoft’s Bill Gates Speaks to Congress about Immigratio http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/microsoft%E2%80%99s_bill_gates_speaks_to_congress_about_immigratio http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=478 Microsoft’s Bill Gates Speaks to Congress about Immigration Reform

 

Mar 12 2008

Earlier today, Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corporation, voiced his concerns over what he considers faulty immigration policies in a presentation to the U.S. Congress. In a statement given to the House of Representatives’ Science and Technology Committee, Gates remarked that the current U.S. immigration system limits U.S. technology corporations’ ability to recruit and retain highly skilled immigrants.

“As a result [of restrictive immigration legislation], many US firms, including Microsoft, have been forced to locate staff in countries that welcome skilled foreign workers to do work that could otherwise have been done in the United States, if it were not for our counterproductive immigration policies,” said Gates.

Gates specifically spoke about the restrictive cap placed on the H-1B Skilled Worker visa as the major limiting factor for U.S. technology companies. The current cap on these visas, set presently at 65,000, does not reflect the needs of the U.S. economy, said Gates, who pointed out that, last year, all 65,000 visas were filled up in one day.

"Last year, for example, Microsoft was unable to obtain H-1B visas for one-third of the highly qualified foreign-born job candidates that we wanted to hire," said Gates.

"If we increase the number of H-1B visas that are available to US companies, employment of US nationals would likely grow as well…. Microsoft has found that for every H-1B hire we make, we add on average four additional employees to support them in various capacities."

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Wed, 12 Mar 2008 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Introduces Biometric Requirement for Re-entry Permits http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_introduces_biometric_requirement_for_re-entry_permits_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=479 USCIS Introduces Biometric Requirement for Re-entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents

 

Mar 6 2008

Earlier this week, USCIS issued revised instructions for Form I-131, the Application for Travel Document. These instructions, which include a range of changes, became effective March 5, 2008. Changes made to the form include requiring individuals applying for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents to provide biometric information at a USCIS Application Support Center. USCIS will notify applicants of their appointment at a designated Application Security Center after the applicant has submitted the Form I-131.

These new instructions apply to individuals filing Form I-131s for re-entry permits or refugee travel documents who are between the ages of 14 and 79. USCIS suggests that these applicants file Form I-131s well in advance of their expected travel date.

In addition to the new biometric requirements, applicable individuals who are in the U.S. will also be required to pay the $80 biometric services fee (or submit a fee waiver request).

Finally, applicants wishing to request expedited processing should submit pre-paid express mailers with their Form I-131s so that USCIS can mail back the receipt and appointment notice, along with the RE-entry Permit or Refugee Travel Document, if approved. Additional information on expedited processing procedures is delineated in detail on the revised instructions.

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Thu, 06 Mar 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Changes to CDC Vaccination Requirements for Immigrants http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/changes_to_cdc_vaccination_requirements_for_immigrants_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=480 Changes to CDC Vaccination Requirements for Immigrants

 

Feb 28 2008

A recent update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding medical examinations for immigrants coming to the U.S. included two new changes. CDC has, first, made changes to the vaccination requirements for applicants examined by a panel physician abroad. The required vaccines include the following:

Age-appropriate vaccination requirements: rotavirus vaccine, hepatitis A vaccine, meningococcal vaccine, human papillomavirus vaccine (women only), and zoster vaccine.
Through 18 years of age: Hepatitis B vaccine.
Ages 6 to 59 months: Influenza vaccine.
Ages 10-64: Acellular pertussis-containing vaccines.

CDC has also noted that their tests for checking tuberculosis in immigrants entering the U.S. is not sufficient. The organization plans to phase in new procedures to be carried out by panel physicians, starting with eight countries the government organization deems most important, The major change includes more robust testing for children under the age of 15. Tuberculin skin tests (TST) will now be required for applicants under the age of 15 in countries with a World Health Organization estimated tuberculosis incidence rate of less than 20 per 100,000. If the applicant has a test rate of 5mm, they will be required to have a chest radiograph. If tuberculosis is suggested by this test, the applicant will be required to take treatment under a directly observed therapy program, prior to entering the U.S.

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Thu, 28 Feb 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Stand-Alone I-130 Petitions Must Be Submitted to the Chicago http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/stand-alone_i-130_petitions_must_be_submitted_to_the_chicago http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=481 Stand-Alone I-130 Petitions Must Be Submitted to the Chicago Lockbox

 

Feb 20 2008

Earlier this week, USCIS revised the filing instructions for Form I-130, the Petition for Alien Relative. Effective February 19, all petitioners that file a stand-alone Form I-130 should file their petition with the Chicago Lockbox, as opposed to submitting the petition to a USCIS Service Center.

In December 2007, USCIS officially ‘encouraged’ petitioners to submit their stand-alone I-130 petitions to the Chicago Lockbox as the organization worked toward revising the I-130 form. That form has now been fully revised and filing with the Chicago Lockbox is now required of these petitioners.

Petitions filed with the Chicago Lockbox, after receipt, will be routed to and adjudicated at either the Vermont or California USCIS Service Center.

USCIS has created two separate P.O. Box addresses that correspond to the appropriate USCIS Service Center that will process the petitioner’s I-130 form. Petitioners who reside in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin or Wyoming are required to file their stand-alone I-130 petitions to the following address:

USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-1029

Petitioner who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia or District of Columbia are required to file their stand-alone I-130 petitions to the following address:

P.O. Box 804616
Chicago, IL 60680-1029

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Wed, 20 Feb 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County International Airport Now http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/detroit_metropolitan_wayne_county_international_airport_now_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=482 Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County International Airport Now Collecting 10 Fingerprints for Non-U.S. Citizens

 

Feb 19 2008

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Tuesday that it has begun collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. This increased security measure, is part of a larger departmental upgrade to enhance security measures at U.S. ports of entry and to better establish visitors’ identities upon arrival in the U.S. With some exceptions, all non-U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 79 will be required to comply with this new regulation upon entry to the U.S.

Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport is the eighth port of entry to begin collecting 10 fingerprints from international visitors. Numerous foreign visitors enter the U.S. at this air port of entry; on average, roughly 1,900 international visitors complete US VISIT biometric procedures at the airport. The majority of these international visitors come from Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and India. By the end of 2008, all air, sea and land ports will transition to this enhanced security measure.

"Biometrics have revolutionized our ability to prevent dangerous people from entering the United States since 2004. Our upgrade to 10 fingerprint collection builds on our success, enabling us to focus more attention on stopping potential security risks," said Robert Mocny, director of the US VISIT program.

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Tue, 19 Feb 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Naturalization Backlog May Take Three Years to Clear Up http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/naturalization_backlog_may_take_three_years_to_clear_up_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=483 Naturalization Backlog May Take Three Years to Clear Up

 

Feb 15 2008

According to a recently published report by the Migration Policy Institute, it may take USCIS nearly three years to clear the naturalization backlog caused by an increase in applications received last summer. During the three summer months of 2007, USCIS received a total of 737,223 applications, three times the amount received during the same period the prior year. In October 2007, nearly 1 million naturalization applications were pending. Because of this surge in applications, the processing times for naturalization applications, according to USCIS has more than doubled. Applications filed during the summer of 2007 will take roughly 16 to 18 months to adjudicate, compared to a 6 to 7 month processing time period for applications filed in 2006.

USCIS officials believe this surge in applications is due to a number of reasons, including citizenship campaigns launched throughout the U.S., the heated political climate revolving around the immigration issue and the upcoming presidential elections. To counteract the effects of the surge, USCIS has expanded work hours for its employees and hired additional staff. USCIS also plans to hire an additional 1,800 employees (including retired USCIS staff) to assist in managing the naturalization backlog.

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Fri, 15 Feb 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Update on E-Verify; More than 52,000 Employers Now Reg http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_update_on_e-verify%3B_more_than_52%2C000_employers_now_reg http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=484 USCIS Update on E-Verify; More than 52,000 Employers Now Registered with the Program

 

Feb 13 2008

In a recent press release, USCIS announced that more than 52,000 employers have voluntarily registered to participate in E-Verify, the agency’s web-based employment authorization status verification program. USCIS also noted that more than 1,000 new employers register to participate in E-Verify each week.

“We began with a small number of pilot employers in five states testing the viability of such a program,” said Emilio Gonzalez, Director of USC IS. “Today, more than 52,000 employers across the nation are participating in E-Verify. This program is proving to be a key component in promoting the integrity of the employment verification process of our workforce. E-Verify is a valuable tool, and we congratulate the thousands of employers who are making a positive impact on our nation’s security.”

The web-based employment verification program, which USCIS operates in partnership with the Social Security Administration, enables participants to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their new hires. USCIS continues to expand the program; most recently, the agency launched a new photo screening tool that allows employers to compare a new hire’s photos against a Homeland Security database of roughly 15 million images. While the program is currently voluntary, some states, according to USCIS, “require certain employers to participate in and comply with a federal work authorization verification program.” In Arizona, for example, which requires detailed employer compliance to federal regulations, participation in E-Verify increased from 325 participants last year to 18,000 current participants.

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Wed, 13 Feb 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Proposes Changes to the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Work http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_proposes_changes_to_the_h-2a_temporary_agricultural_work http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=485 DHS Proposes Changes to the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Program

 

Feb 6 2008

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a series of proposed changes that would enable a more streamlined hiring process for temporary/seasonal workers hired to work in the U.S. under the H-2A visa category. These modifications would accomplish a number of things, including reducing certain limitations and delays U.S employers face and enabling employers more flexibility in petitioning for multiple, unnamed agricultural workers.

The proposed changes would also extend the amount of time a temporary agricultural worker could stay in the U.S. after the end of their employment period from 10 to 30 days. The changes would reduce the time a temporary agricultural worker is required to wait outside of the U.S. before again being eligible to return under H-2A status from six to three months. Finally, the proposed changes would enable H-2A workers to shift from one H-2A employer to a new, petitioning employer prior to approval of that change by USCIS, as long as that employer is a participant in USCIS’ E-Verify program.

“These proposed changes are designed to provide an efficient and secure program for farmers to legally fulfill their need for agricultural workers within the law rather than outside the law,” said Michael Chertoff, Secretary of DHS. “This common-sense simplification of H-2A will provide farm employers with a more orderly and timely flow of legal workers, while continuing to protect the rights of laborers and promoting legal and secure methods for determining who is coming into the country.”

The proposed rule to amend the H-2A program also includes certain provisions to tighten up the security and integrity of the visa program. Changes to current regulations regarding security/integrity issues include: requiring employers to attest to the scope of the proposed H-2A employment and their use of recruiters to find H-2A workers; limiting the employers’ and recruiters’ ability to charge fees to prospective H-2A workers; getting rid of employers’ ability to file H-2A petitions without first having an approved temporary labor certification; and restricting the approval of an H-2A petition from individuals from countries that consistently refuse or unreasonably delay the repatriation of their nationals.

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Wed, 06 Feb 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Suggests Certain H-1B Cap Exempt Petitions Should be S http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_suggests_certain_h-1b_cap_exempt_petitions_should_be_s http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=486 USCIS Suggests Certain H-1B Cap Exempt Petitions Should be Sent to CSC

 

Feb 5 2008

USCIS announced last week that it is introducing a new initiative to streamline H-1B petition adjudications. On February 1, 2008, USCIS introduced a special group at their California Service Center dedicated solely to processing H-1B cap exempt petitions. These petitions include those filed by institutions of higher education, nonprofit associations that are affiliated with institutions of higher education and nonprofit or governmental research organizations.

Note that the cap-exempt petitions that will be adjudicated by this special group do not include H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals seeking exemption based on their level of education (having a U.S. master’s degree or higher), those requesting an extension of stay, those wishing to change employers or those requesting an amendment to their petitions. These petitions should continue to be sent to originally stated addresses. However, petitioners requesting exemption based on the three criteria stated above (institutions of higher education, nonprofit associations affiliated with institutions of higher education and nonprofit or governmental research organizations) should, according to USCIS, start using a new mailing address when submitting their H-1B cap exempt petitions:

Direct Mail:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
California Service Center
ATTN: CAP EXEMPT H-1B Processing Unit
P.O. BOX 30040
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-3004

Private Couriers:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
California Service Center
ATTN: CAP EXEMPT H-1B Processing Unit
24000 Avila Road, Room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Note that if a cap-exempt petition is received at a different service center, that petition will be forwarded to the California Service Center for processing and adjudication. This procedure will remain in place until USCIS posts specific filing instructions requiring the submission of these petitions to the California Service Center.

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Tue, 05 Feb 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Faces Backlog in the Processing of Naturalization Appl http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_faces_backlog_in_the_processing_of_naturalization_appl http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=487 USCIS Faces Backlog in the Processing of Naturalization Applications

 

Feb 1 2008

According to recent statements by Emilio Gonzalez, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the average processing time for naturalization applications has dramatically increased. Currently, the wait time for these applications is roughly 18 months; an increase from the previous time period of just 7 months. In addition, Gonzalez commented that the average family-based adjustment of status application currently takes 12 months to process. These delays are due to a massive increase in requests for naturalization that were received by USCIS this summer; from June to August 2007, more than 3 million naturalization applications were received.

USCIS does plan to increase its staff and to automate procedures wherever possible; however, the backlog is immense and USCIS is hesitant to comment on when they can return to a standard 6-month average time period for processing naturalization applications.

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Fri, 01 Feb 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
MRV Application Fee to Increase to $131 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/mrv_application_fee_to_increase_to_%24131_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=488 MRV Application Fee to Increase to $131

 

Jan 30 2008

Beginning February 1, 2008, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas to the U.S. will be required to pay a Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) application fee of $131. This fee increase was effective January 1, 2008; however, fees of $100 were accepted for thirty days (up to January 31, 2008) for those individuals that had made their application payment prior to January 1, 2008. All individuals who had made or will make their visa application payment after January 1, 2008 will need to make the full $131 payment or, if they had already made a $100 payment, pay the difference ($31) prior to being interviewed.

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Wed, 30 Jan 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Logan International Airport Now Collecting 10 Fingerprints f http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/logan_international_airport_now_collecting_10_fingerprints_f http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=490 Logan International Airport Now Collecting 10 Fingerprints for Non-U.S. Citizens

 

Jan 24 2008

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Tuesday that it has begun collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors at Boston’s Logan International Airport. This increased security measure is part of a larger departmental upgrade to enhance security measures at U.S. ports of entry and to better establish visitors’ identities upon arrival in the U.S. With some exceptions, all non-U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 79 will be required to comply with this new regulation upon entry to the U.S.

Logan Airport is the third port of entry to begin collecting 10 fingerprints from international visitors. Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport began this enhanced collection process on November 29, 2007 and Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport began collection on January 6, 2008. In the near future, 10-fingerprint collections will also begin at the following airports: Chicago O'Hare International Airport; San Francisco International Airport; George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport; Miami International Airport; Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport; Orlando International Airport; and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. By the end of 2008, all air, sea and land ports will transition to this enhanced security measure.

"Biometrics have revolutionized our ability to prevent dangerous people from entering the United States since 2004,” said Robert Mocny, US VISIT Director. “Our upgrade to 10 fingerprint collection builds on our success, enabling us to focus more attention on stopping potential security risks.”

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Thu, 24 Jan 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senators Voice Dissent Over End of Oral Declarations at the http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senators_voice_dissent_over_end_of_oral_declarations_at_the_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=491 Senators Voice Dissent Over End of Oral Declarations at the U.S. Border

 

Jan 22 2008

A number of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have voiced concerns over the Department of Homeland Security’s new plan to increase border crossing rules at the end of this month. As of January 31, 2008, all travelers will be required to show documents (e.g.: birth certificates, passports or driver’s licenses) that prove their citizenship when attempting to enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. Prior to this change in regulation, which is part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, citizens of the U.S. and Canada could simply make an oral declaration of their citizenship status.

Senate Judiciary Chairman, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), for example, has voiced concerns that this new initiative is poorly planned and could affect the amount of trade with and travel to the U.S., especially at a time when a recession is foreseen for the U.S. economy.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs member Susan Collins (R-ME) has also publicly spoken about the restrictive nature of this requirement change:

"While I understand that the secretary views this initiative as separate from the requirement for a passport that the Congress has prohibited him from implementing until June 2009, the clear message we were sending to the department was to be more attuned to the legitimate travel and commerce of border community residents," said Collins in a recent public statement." For the department to impose an additional requirement of a birth certificate, which many residents do not have at hand, and to no longer accept common documents such as baptismal certificates and student ID cards as a supplement to license checks could well cause considerable difficulties and back-ups at the border."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, however, disagrees with these voices of dissent and has stated in a letter to senators that he has the right to terminate the practice of oral declarations at the U.S. border. It is questionable whether the vocalized dissent of these senators and others will have any effect on this January 31 change. We will keep you posted and up-to-date on this topic in the near future.

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Tue, 22 Jan 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S./Canadian Travelers Will Soon Be Required to Show Proof http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s.canadian_travelers_will_soon_be_required_to_show_proof http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=493 U.S./Canadian Travelers Will Soon Be Required to Show Proof of Citizenship/Identity at U.S. Land/Sea Ports of Entry

 

Jan 18 2008

This week, the Department of Homeland Security posted a reminder to travelers that, starting January 31, 2008, all individuals entering the U.S. via a land and sea port of entry will be required to show documents that prove their citizenship and identity. This change especially affects Canadians and U.S. citizens who, up to now, have been able to enter simply by providing an oral declaration of their citizenship.

“For the safety of the American people, the United States cannot have an honor system at the border,” said Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. “Requiring secure and reliable documentation at our borders will drastically reduce security vulnerabilities posed by permitting entry based on oral declarations alone. As travelers become accustomed to carrying documents to cross the border, and as we move to more stringent documentation requirements, our border officers will be able to more quickly and confidently identify crossborder travelers.”

Starting January 31, travelers will need to provide documentation from a specified list of acceptable documents of proof of identity and/or citizenship when crossing any U.S. land or sea port of entry. These documents include birth certificates and driver’s licenses. A full list of documents that are acceptable is posted online at www.cbp.gov. Note that individuals age 18 and under will only need to show a birth certificate to enter the U.S.

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Fri, 18 Jan 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Publishes Final Rule Regarding the REAL ID Act http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_publishes_final_rule_regarding_the_real_id_act_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=494 DHS Publishes Final Rule Regarding the REAL ID Act

 

Jan 13 2008

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the final rule for the REAL ID Act, which establishes minimum security standards for state issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. States must adopt and comply with specific requirements laid out in the final rule, according to DHS, which include the following:

1) Certain information and security features must be included in each ID card;
2) Proof of the identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status of each applicant must be established;
3) Source documents provided by the applicant must be verified;
4) A range of new security standards must be met by all offices that issue licenses and ID cards.

States have been given their first deadline for compliance with the REAL ID Act: December 31, 2009. By then, states must have upgraded the security of their licenses systems.

“The American public’s desire for greater identity protection is undeniable,” said Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. “Americans understand today that the 9/11 hijackers obtained 30 drivers licenses and ID’s, and used 364 aliases. For an extra $8 per license, REAL ID will give law enforcement and security officials a powerful advantage against falsified documents, and it will bring some peace of mind to citizens wanting to protect their identity from theft by a criminal or illegal alien.”

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Sun, 13 Jan 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reaches H-2B Visa Cap for Second Half of Fiscal Year 2 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reaches_h-2b_visa_cap_for_second_half_of_fiscal_year_2 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=495 USCIS Reaches H-2B Visa Cap for Second Half of Fiscal Year 2008

 

Jan 10 2008

On January 3, 2008, USCIS announced that it had received enough H-2B petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of Fiscal Year 2008. January 2, according to USCIS, will be the ‘final receipt date’ for all requests for new H-2B worker visas with employment start dates prior to October 1, 2008. Further, USCIS has commented that it will reject any petition for a new H-2B worker for an employment start date prior to October 1, 2008 that was received by USCIS after January 2.

The H-2B mandatory visa cap allows for up to 33,000 H-2B workers for the second half of Fiscal Year 2008. Petitions received on or before January 2 will now go through a computer-generated random selection process. Cap-subject petitions not chosen in this selection process will be rejected and USCIS will return the fee to those petitioners.

Please note that petitions for workers currently in the U.S. under H-2B status do not count toward this bi-annual H-2B cap. USCIS states that it will continue to process petitions filed to extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the U.S. or change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay. In addition, USCIS will process petitions filed to allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay in the U.S.

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Thu, 10 Jan 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Two New State Laws Place Restrictions on Supporters and Empl http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/two_new_state_laws_place_restrictions_on_supporters_and_empl http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=496 Two New State Laws Place Restrictions on Supporters and Employers of Undocumented Workers

 

Jan 7 2008

An Oklahoma law that went into effect on November 1, 2007 has resulted in a large number of immigrants leaving that state. The law, which makes it a felony to harbor, transport or provide aid to an illegal immigrant, has caused an increased level of fear in Oklahoma’s Hispanic community and has had deleterious effects on that state’s construction industry. Many building companies have voiced their concerns over a lack of available workers and are considering a lawsuit against the state’s restrictive measure.

The Oklahoma law is a precursor to a similar Arizonan legislation that went into effect January 1, in which employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants could lose their operating licenses.

State legislators throughout the country are watching both of these states closely as they plan their own potential legislations. At the same time, immigration advocates are paying close attention to strategies used by opponents to these laws -- their successes and their failures -- as they gear up to protect undocumented workers throughout the U.S.

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Mon, 07 Jan 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Continues Suspension of Premium Processing for Religio http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_continues_suspension_of_premium_processing_for_religio http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=497 USCIS Continues Suspension of Premium Processing for Religious Worker Visas

 

Jan 4 2008

USCIS recently announced that the suspension of premium processing of R-1 Visa applications for religious workers has been extended until July 8, 2008. The initial six-month suspension of this service was first announced in Jun 2007. According to USCIS, because of the complexity of adjudicating R-1 visas, the organization is still assessing whether they can provide a 15-day processing service for these petitions.

In April of last year, USCIS proposed a range of revisions to its regulations for processing R-1 religions worker visa petitions aimed at eliminating fraud in that visa program. In addition, current established practices and procedures involved in the adjudication process include inspections, evaluations, verifications and compliance reviews, all of which exceed the time restraints imposed by a 15-day premium processing guarantee.

USCIS notes that, in the future, if it is able to ensure R-1 visa petitions can be adequately adjudicated in 15 days, the premium processing service for this visa category will again be made active.

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Fri, 04 Jan 2008 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Republicans Speak Up About Immigration http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/republicans_speak_up_about_immigration_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=498 Republicans Speak Up About Immigration

 

Dec 31 2007

In recent days, Republican rivals for president are speaking up against immigration and for rigorous immigration control. At a campaign appearance in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Rudy Giuliani promised major changes in how the U.S. manages illegal immigration:

"You need security at the border, a fence, a technological fence to stop people from coming in before they can be illegal," said Giuliani. For those that remain in the U.S., Giuliani said, “they should have to read English, write English and speak English.”

Mitt Romney is taking a different approach, attacking fellow candidate, John McCain, in a series of ads in the state of New Hampshire. “McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently,” stated one ad by Romney.

“The issue of illegal immigration may be one of the most emotional issues I ever encountered," McCain said, of the topic of immigration. McCain, who, just a year ago, supported a guest worker program for the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., has changed his opinion and has now shifted to a more protective attitude toward the hot topic. "There are about 2 million people here illegally who have committed crimes; those people should be deported immediately," said McCain. "We can't round up the other 10 million people and deport them all at once, so you are going to have to go step by step … [with] walls in urban areas, through vehicle barriers, with cameras and sensors."

Immigration is quickly becoming a hot topic on the path to choosing a Republican candidate for president. Assuredly, we’ll see this topic remain in the forefront of the entire presidential campaign in 2008.

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Mon, 31 Dec 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
H-2B Visas Still Available for Second Half of 2008 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-2b_visas_still_available_for_second_half_of_2008_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=499 H-2B Visas Still Available for Second Half of 2008

 

Dec 23 2007

According to USCIS, there are still a number of H-2B visas available for the second half of 2008. Nearly 17,000 H-2B visas have been approved thus far, leaving roughly 16,000 visas still open to reach the half-year cap of 33,000. Currently, about 17,500 H-2B cases are pending, with USCIS stating that they need about 50,000 total H-2B petitions to reach the 33,000 cap.

The H-2B visa category lets U.S. employers in industries with “peak load, seasonal or intermittent needs” to add to their existing workforce with temporary labor. H-2B workers usually work in the fields of construction, healthcare, landscaping, lumber, manufacturing, food service and hospitality services.

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Sun, 23 Dec 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
An Update on the Arizona Law to Curb Illegal Immigrants http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/an_update_on_the_arizona_law_to_curb_illegal_immigrants_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=500 An Update on the Arizona Law to Curb Illegal Immigrants

 

Dec 18 2007

All signs currently lead to an Arizona-based federal judge not stopping a law against employers who hire illegal immigrants. Judge Neil V. Wake of the Phoenix, AZ Federal District Court has said that he will issue a final ruling later this week and that business and civil groups that attempted to block the law were incorrect in attempting to sue Arizona’s governor and attorney general.

The law, which is slated to go into effect January 1, will penalize employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. A first offense will lead to a suspension of their business license and a second offense will lead to the revocation of that license.

Supporters of the law believe that it will lead to an end to massive migration into Arizona, a state with one of the highest growth rates of illegal immigrants in the U.S. Opponents of the law, however, believe that it has already led to hundreds of undocumented workers leaving the state or being fired from positions after being unable to provide valid employee eligibility documentation to their employers.

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Tue, 18 Dec 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
In Hispanic Populations, Fluency in English Increases Dramat http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/in_hispanic_populations%2C_fluency_in_english_increases_dramat http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=501 In Hispanic Populations, Fluency in English Increases Dramatically with Each Generation

 

Dec 17 2007

According to a recently published study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, almost 9 out of every 10 Hispanic adults born in the U.S. are fluent speakers of English. In contrast, the immigrant parents of U.S.-born Hispanic Americans reported a less than 25% rate of fluency in the English language.

The study, which gathered data from 14,000 Hispanic adults over a 4-year period, found, startlingly, that the level of fluency in the English language rose up to 94% in each generation. According to the study, “as fluency in English increases across generations, so, too, does the regular use of English by Hispanics.”

Hispanics are the fastest-growing population in the country; more than 43 million of the nation’s 300 million inhabitants are Hispanic and that number continues to grow. Further, Hispanics are at the forefront of the recent debates on immigration in the House and Senate.

Data from the Pew Hispanic Center report points to high level of assimilation seen in Hispanic immigrant populations in the U.S. at a generational level, something that may lead to a more supportive view of immigration issues and rights related to this minority population.

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Mon, 17 Dec 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Nonimmigrant Application Fees to Increase on January 1, 2008 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nonimmigrant_application_fees_to_increase_on_january_1%2C_2008 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=502 Nonimmigrant Application Fees to Increase on January 1, 2008

 

Dec 14 2007

Fees for applying for nonimmigrant visas are schedule to increase on January 1, 2008. Worldwide, the fees for tourist, business, student and other nonimmigrant visas will rise to $131. In addition, this increased fee will apply to all Border Crossing Cards (also known as “Laser Visas”) for applicants from Mexico. Note that Mexican nationals under the age of 15 will still be able to pay an application fee for $13 for any visa that does not extend past their 15th birthday.

The Department of State has stated that application fees of $100, paid before January 1, 2008, will be accepted up to January 31, 2008. After that date, all worldwide applicants will be required to pay the equivalent of $131 at the time of processing of their application, regardless of when the application was originally submitted.

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Fri, 14 Dec 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DV-2008 Winners Chosen, Notified http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dv-2008_winners_chosen%2C_notified_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=503 DV-2008 Winners Chosen, Notified

 

Dec 6 2007

The Department of State has announced the winners of the 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery. This lottery, which makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas for individuals from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S., is held each year. This year, roughly 96,000 people have been registered and notified that they were chosen by the Department of State to be applicable for permanent resident visas. DOS regularly issues more than 50,000 notifications; a percentage of the first 50,000 recipients historically have not pursued their cases to the point of visa issuance.

Applicants for DV-2008 were chosen at random from more than 6.4 million entries received this year. The visas were split up between six geographic regions; not more than seven percent of the winners came from any one country. Please note that, during the visa interview, all DV winners will need to provide proof of a high school education (or its equivalent) or show two years of work experience in a job that requires at least two years of training or experience over the past five years. Please note that, if you were chosen, you should act quickly to start the process. Feel free to contact our firm to begin this process.

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Thu, 06 Dec 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S., Canadian Citizens Will Soon Be Required to Show I.D. a http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s.%2C_canadian_citizens_will_soon_be_required_to_show_i.d._a http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=504 U.S., Canadian Citizens Will Soon Be Required to Show I.D. at Land and Sea Borders

 

Dec 5 2007

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State issued a joint reminder that, as of January 31, 2008, all adult travelers entering the U.S. through land and sea ports of entry will be required to show proof of citizenship. This proof could include a birth certificate or a driver’s license.

This new requirement is part of a larger transition toward the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which will establish a range of documentation requirements for all travelers entering the U.S. (including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda).

Right now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection are allowed to accept oral declarations of citizenship from U.S. and Canadian citizens attempting to enter the U.S. from a land or sea border. But, as of January 31, 2008, these oral declarations will no longer be considered proof of citizenship. All U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 19 and older, will need to show a government-issued ID. All individuals age 18 and younger will only be required to show proof of citizenship. Please note that passports will continue to be accepted when attempting to cross land or sea borders.

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Wed, 05 Dec 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Notes an Address Change for Petitioners Filing Stand-A http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_notes_an_address_change_for_petitioners_filing_stand-a http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=505 USCIS Notes an Address Change for Petitioners Filing Stand-Alone Form I-130s

 

Dec 4 2007

USCIS, who is revising I-130 filing instructions, now advises all applicants filing stand-alone Form I-130s (the Petition for Alien Relative) to file their petitions with the Chicago Lockbox, as opposed to a USCIS service center. Petitions received at the Chicago Lockbox will then be sent to and adjudicated at the appropriate USCIS Service Center, which is based on the petitioner’s residential location in the U.S.

USCIS has created two separate post office addresses; each correspond to the appropriate USCIS Service Center that will process and adjudicate the I-130 petition.

Petitioners who live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin or Wyoming are advised to file their stand-along Form I-130s to the following Lockbox address:

USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-1029

Petitioners who live in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia or District of Columbia are advised to file their stand-along Form I-130s to the following Lockbox address:

USCIS
P.O. Box 804616
Chicago, IL 60680-1029

This procedural change went into effect December 3, 2007; however, Form I-130s filed directly to the Service Center will not be rejected. It will simply be forwarded to the corresponding Chicago Lockbox address. However, this may lead to delays in the processing of your application.

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Tue, 04 Dec 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Withdraws Sanctioned Sponsors of Exchange Visitors Law http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dos_withdraws_sanctioned_sponsors_of_exchange_visitors_law_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=506 DOS Withdraws Sanctioned Sponsors of Exchange Visitors Law

 

Nov 29 2007

Earlier this month, the Department of State published a final rule titled the ‘Exchange Visitors Program – Sanctions and Terminations.’ That rule amended and modified the ways in that the Department of State can sanction a sponsor. This change would offer sanctioned sponsors of exchange visitors due process rights given by the Administrative Procedure Act. Further, the rule would have eliminated summary suspensions and modified program suspensions that would stop all activities of exchange visitor sponsors that committed acts of omission that could endanger the health, safety or welfare of an exchange visitor (or adversely affect the national security interests of the U.S.)

The final rule, however, is now being withdrawn so that it can be internally reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. The rule may again become law in the future, but at this point, it has been withdrawn and is not currently effective.

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Thu, 29 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Advises Public of Increase in Processing Times http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_advises_public_of_increase_in_processing_times_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=507 USCIS Advises Public of Increase in Processing Times

 

Nov 26 2007

Due to a significant increase in the number of applications filed this summer, USCIS has released an official advisory on processing times. According to USCIS, nearly 2.5 million applications and petitions were received in July and August of this year. Note that during these two months in 2006, only 1.2 million applications and petitions were received by USCIS. In addition, USCIS has received 1.4 million applications for naturalization this year, an increase of almost 100 percent over naturalization requests last year.

While USCIS notes that it is actively working to manage the increased workload (including hiring 1,500 new employees), individuals should expect processing times for some applications to increase in length. Naturalization applications will especially be affected by this increase in the number of applications received by USCIS. Applications submitted after June 1, 2007 may take roughly 16 to 18 months to process.

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Mon, 26 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S. Issues Record Number of Student Visas in 2007 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._issues_record_number_of_student_visas_in_2007_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=508 U.S. Issues Record Number of Student Visas in 2007

 

Nov 18 2007

Good news for foreign students and the universities that educate them. According to the Department of State (DOS), a record number of visas have been issued to foreign nationals to study in the U.S. this year. During Fiscal Year 2007, DOS issued over 651,000 student and exchange visitors. This number is a 10% increase over 2006 and 90,000 more visas than issued in 2001.

Last week was International Education Week. During that week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated: "In this celebration of international education and exchange, the U.S. Department of State joins with the U.S. Department of Education to highlight the critical role of education in our efforts to secure a bright future based on international partnership and understanding."

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Sun, 18 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Japan Implements New Security Measures for All Foreign Natio http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/japan_implements_new_security_measures_for_all_foreign_natio http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=509 Japan Implements New Security Measures for All Foreign Nationals

 

Nov 18 2007

Visitors to Japan will now face new security measures upon entry to that country. A new Japanese law, that took effect on November 20, 2007, now requires the submission of personal identification information upon arrival in Japan. Under the new regulations, foreign nationals, at the arrival point in Japan will be required to allow an immigration control officer to collect fingerprints and a facial photograph of them. Any foreign nationals who refuse to comply with the new requirement will not be allowed to enter Japan.

Please note that this new requirement will affect all foreign nationals who wish to enter Japan, with the exception of: (1) special permanent residents; (2) individuals under the age of 16; (3) diplomats or officials of another country; (4) individuals invited to Japan by the head of any Japanese national administrative organization; and (5) individuals designated by the Japanese Ministry of Justice as equivalent to either diplomats/officials or those invited by heads of national administrative organizations.

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Sun, 18 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
H-2A Petitions to be Accepted Only at CSC http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-2a_petitions_to_be_accepted_only_at_csc_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=510 H-2A Petitions to be Accepted Only at CSC

Nov 12 2007

USCIS just announced that, as of December 10, 2007, the agency will only accept petitions for the H-2A Visa for temporary/agricultural workers mailed or delivered to its California Service Center. Please note that the following address, as of December 10, should be used for H-2A petitions:

Direct mail:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services California Service Center ATTN: H-2A Processing Unit P.O. BOX 10140 Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1040

Private courier:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services California Service Center ATTN: H-2A Processing Unit 24000 Avila Road, Room 2312 Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

In addition, USCIS notes that it will return H-2A petitions received on or after December 10 at any other Service Center with a notice to the petitioner to send the petition to the California Service Center. Prior to this notice petitioners were able to file H-2A petitions with either the California or the Vermont Service Center.

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Mon, 12 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Revises Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verificat http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_revises_form_i-9%2C_the_employment_eligibility_verificat http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=511 USCIS Revises Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form

 

Nov 11 2007

USCIS recently announced that it has published a revised version of the I-9 Form, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form. All employers in the U.S. are now required to use this new form when completing any new hire within this country.

According to USCIS, the revised form aims to reach full compliance with document reduction requirements set out in federal legislature. Key aspects of the revised form include the removal of five documents for proof of identity and employment eligibility. These documents include Forms N-560 or N-570, the Certificate of U.S. Citizenship; Forms N-550 or N-570, the Certificate of Naturalization; Form I-151, the Alien Registration Receipt Card; Form I-327, the unexpired Reentry Permit; and Form I-571, the unexpired Refugee Travel Document.

USCIS notes that it removed these forms because they do not have sufficient features in place to deter counterfeiting, tampering and fraud.

The most recent version of Form I-766, the Employment Authorization Document, however, was added to ‘List A’ of acceptable documents of proof. The revised I-9 Form now allows the following as proof identity and employment eligibility: an unexpired or expired U.S. passport; Form I-551, the Permanent Resident Card; an unexpired foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp; unexpired Forms I-766, I-688, I-688A, or I-688B, the Employment Authorization Document (including a photograph); and an unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired Form I-94, the Arrival-Departure Record for nonimmigrant aliens authorized to work for a certain employer.

As of November 7, 2007, employers were only allowed to use Form I-9 with a revision date of June 5, 2007. USCIS notes, though, that a notice will soon be published in the Federal Register giving employers a 30-day notice to transition to the new form.

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Sun, 11 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Proposed DHS Regulation Would Allow Certain HIV Positive Ali http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/proposed_dhs_regulation_would_allow_certain_hiv_positive_ali http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=512 Proposed DHS Regulation Would Allow Certain HIV Positive Aliens to Temporarily Enter the U.S.

 

Nov 7 2007

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed last week to amend current regulations that relate to certain nonimmigrants seeking entry into the U.S. This proposed regulation would authorize the use of short-term nonimmigrant visas and temporary admission for foreign nationals who are currently not allowed to enter the U.S. solely because they are HIV positive.

In the proposed rule, on a limited basis, these individuals would be able to enter the U.S. as visitors for business or pleasure for up to thirty days, as long as they met certain requirements that would be set in place to ensure their control and departure. Any nonimmigrant who either does not meet these specific circumstances, or chooses not to consent to these levels of control, would be able to seek a particular determination of their eligibility for a waiver of the nonimmigrant visa requirements for HIV positive foreign nationals.

DHS is asking for comments to be received on or before December 6, 2007. Comments can be made at www.regulations.gov.

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Wed, 07 Nov 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate, House Conference on Appropriations Bill Leads to Cha http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate%2C_house_conference_on_appropriations_bill_leads_to_cha http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=513 Senate, House Conference on Appropriations Bill Leads to Changes in Immigration Legislation

 

Nov 3 2007

In early November, during a conference between House and Senate members to reconcile differences in their two versions of the Labor-HHS-Education and Military Construction-VA appropriation bills, two major immigration provisions were deleted. While no official information is, as of yet, available, it is understood that the proposed increase in H-1B fees has been removed from the appropriation bills. In addition, an amendment added by the U.S. Senate, that would have recaptured unused Green Cards for Schedule A occupations, has also been removed.

Please note, though, that President Bush has publicly stated he may veto these bills. This would, of course, lead to further revisions, compromises and changes in regulation. These changes would invariably affect the structures of the bills overall, but most likely would also affect the specific immigration-related measures within these massive appropriation bills.

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Sat, 03 Nov 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Change in Travel Regulations for H and L Nonimmigrants http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/change_in_travel_regulations_for_h_and_l_nonimmigrants_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=514 Change in Travel Regulations for H and L Nonimmigrants

 

Nov 1 2007

A new rule published by USICS has removed the requirement that certain H and L nonimmigrants who are returning to the U.S. after traveling abroad show a receipt notice for their adjustment of status applications. This regulation chance, according to USCIS, removes an unnecessary documentation requirement that USCIS believes puts a burden on these nonimmigrants. This change became effective November 1, 2007.

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Thu, 01 Nov 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DREAM Act Fails to Receive Approval in U.S. Senate http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dream_act_fails_to_receive_approval_in_u.s._senate_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=515 DREAM Act Fails to Receive Approval in U.S. Senate

 

Oct 26 2007

On October 24, the U.S. Senate voted 52 to 44 to not support the DREAM Act of 2007. The act was eight votes shy of being approved by the U.S. Senate. The DREAM Act, which has been introduced in and rejected by the Senate numerous times, calls for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrant students and illegal immigrants wishing to join the U.S. military. Many of the youth that would have received the advantages of the bill are children who were brought to the U.S. at very young ages and were raised in this country. Supporters of the bill, including Senators Reid (D-NV), Durbin (D-IL), Lugar (R-IN), and Hagel (R-NE), labored judiciously in support of this immigration legislation. However, as has been the case in recent past, the proposal did not receive majority support from the Senate. Further, President Bush and the White House have vocalized their lack of support for such legislation.

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Fri, 26 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Immigration Amendments Progress http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_immigration_amendments_progress http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=519 Senate Includes Key Immigration Amendments in the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill

 

Oct 25 2007

On October 23, 2007, two immigration-related amendments were added to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill in the U.S. Senate. The first of these, the Grassley-Sanders amendment, adds an additional fee of $3,500 to the H-1b visa program. This additional fee would be used to create a special education fund to support students in the fields of math, science and engineering. The second amendment, the Schumer-Hutchison amendment, calls to increase the amounts of domestically located nurses and physical therapists by recapturing unused green cards from the years 1996 and 1997. This amendment, before being passed by voice vote, was added to by a second-degree amendment.

The Durbin second-degree amendment would aim to increase the amounts of nursing students and teachers in the U.S. and would create $1,500 fee for recaptured green cards from its first tier counterpart amendment. This second-degree amendment would also require that petitioning healthcare workers attest that they have satisfied any outstanding work commitments to work in their home country.

These amendments have now been included in the Senate’s current version of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. They now will need to be reconciled with the House’s version of that same bill. If reconciliation happens on these amendments, the full bill will then be sent to President Bush for ratification. However, Bush has noted that he may veto the bill because it exceeds the budget he outlined by nearly $9 billion.

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Thu, 25 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Notes that Certain H-1 and H-4 Petitioners Denied Exte http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_notes_that_certain_h-1_and_h-4_petitioners_denied_exte http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=517 USCIS Notes that Certain H-1 and H-4 Petitioners Denied Extensions of Stay May Request Review of their Cases

 

Oct 25 2007

According to USCIS, H-1 and H-4 nonimmigrants, who entered the U.S. via a grant of Advance Parole, may apply for an extension of their status, as long as there is a valid and approved petition. Individuals who have received denials of such extensions because their last time they entered the U.S. was under Advance Parole may wish to seek a review of their cases and can begin this process via the California Service Center Liaison Assistance Form.

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Thu, 25 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Creates Special Processing Center for H-2A Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_creates_special_processing_center_for_h-2a_petitions_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=518 USCIS Creates Special Processing Center for H-2A Petitions

 

Oct 19 2007

USCIS announced on October 17 the creation of a new customer service initiative to improve the processing of H-2A (Temporary/seasonal agricultural worker) petitions. USCIS intends to initiate a series of measures to streamline the H-2A process. The first of these will be to establish a special USCIS unit dedicated solely to processing H-2A petitions at their California Service Center. That service center has established specific mailing addresses to be used for all H-2A petition filings. Effective immediately, it is suggested that petitioners use the following addresses when they submit H-2A petitions (note: this change will become required when USCIS publishes a notice in the Federal Register):

Direct Mail:
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
California Service Center
ATTN: H-2A Processing Unit
P.O. BOX 10140
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1040

Private Courier mail:
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
California Service Center
ATTN: H-2A Processing Unit
24000 Avila Road, Room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

USCIS suggests that petitioners mark the outside of their envelopes with the text, “H-2A” and to attach a sheet of paper with those same words to the top of the petition package. This, USCIS notes, will ensure speedy identification of H-2A petitions to be separately processed by the newly created, special processing unit. All petitions received at other service centers (until the mandatory date) will be forwarded to the California Service Center for processing.

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Fri, 19 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Rejects Amendment to Limit Funds to Sanctuary Cities http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_rejects_amendment_to_limit_funds_to_sanctuary_cities_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=520 Senate Rejects Amendment to Limit Funds to Sanctuary Cities

 

Oct 17 2007

On October 16, the U.S. Senate rejected a proposed local immigration enforcement amendment that was introduced by Senator Vitter (R-La) as part of the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill.

The amendment would have restricted the use of funds in the spending bill for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, a program that gives funds to local law enforcement agencies, to support ‘sanctuary cities,’ those cities that prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal agents in the search for illegal immigrants.

A motion to kill the amendment, which was introduced by Senator Mikulski (D-Md) was passed by the Senate with a vote of 52-42. Senator Mikulski also introduced an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill that would extend the ‘returning worker exemption’ of the H-2B visa program through Fiscal Year 2008. This measure was passed by unanimous consent by the Senate.

Another important amendment added to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations measure on 10/16/07 was an amendment offered by Senator Mikulski (S.AMDT. 3311) that would extend the "returning worker exemption" in the H-2B program for fiscal year 2008. The amendment was passed by unanimous consent.

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Wed, 17 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Individuals with Older Green Cards Will Soon be Required to http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/individuals_with_older_green_cards_will_soon_be_required_to_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=521 Individuals with Older Green Cards Will Soon be Required to Seek Replacement Cards

 

Oct 10 2007

USCIS recently proposed a rule that would require all individuals to seek replacements of Permanent Residence Cards (green cards) without expiration dates. This rule, which would affect more than 750,000 green cards issued between the years of 1977 and 1989, would give individuals a 120-day period to file Form I-90, the Application to Replace Permanent Residence Card. These applicants, who would need to provide a $290 filing fee and an $80 biometric fee, would be required to have their biometric data collected at a local USCIS Application Support Center.

USCIS states that it will publish in the Federal Register the date upon which the validity of these old green cards will be invalid. Any permanent resident that does not file Form I-90 within the proposed 120-day period would not lose their permanent residence status, but would not receive a new green card prior to the official termination date of the outdated card. This, in turn, would make them in violation of current immigration registration requirements.

Please note that you do not need to wait for the publication of this final rule to seek a new, updated green card. You may file your Form I-90 at any time to receive a new green card with an expiration date.

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Wed, 10 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Change in Fees for Indian Immigrant Applications to U.S. http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/change_in_fees_for_indian_immigrant_applications_to_u.s._ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=522 Change in Fees for Indian Immigrant Applications to U.S.

 

Oct 9 2007

Because of changes in the consular exchange rate between India and the U.S., certain fee amounts for Indians seeking to enter the U.S. have changed. Please note these new changes prior to applying for a visa to enter the U.S., which will go into effect October 15, 2007. The new fees are as follows:

NIV application fee: Rs. 4,000
Fraud Prevention Fee (Blanket L1): Rs. 20,000

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Tue, 09 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Creates New Citizenship Test http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_creates_new_citizenship_test_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=523 USCIS Creates New Citizenship Test

 

Oct 9 2007

USCIS has introduced a new citizenship test that they propose to use as of October 2008. A large portion of the questions on the new test will focus on principles of U.S. democracy, the American government system and responsibilities and rights of U.S. citizens, along with questions relating to U.S. geography and history. Note that many of these questions will have more than one correct answer.

All individuals who apply for citizenship on or after October 1, 2008 will take this new test as part of their naturalization procedures. Any individual who applies for citizenship before that date, but is interviewed on or after October 1, 2008, will have the choice of which citizenship test to take.

You can view the new test online at www.uscis.gov/newtest.

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Tue, 09 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces That It Has Reached the H-2B Cap for the Fir http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_that_it_has_reached_the_h-2b_cap_for_the_fir http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=524 USCIS Announces That It Has Reached the H-2B Cap for the First Half of FY2008

 

Oct 3 2007

USCIS announced on October 1, 2007 that it has received enough petitions to reach the H-2B visa cap for the first half of Fiscal Year 2008. Because of this, USCIS has created September 27, 2007 as the final receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions for that fiscal period. This date is the official date on which USCIS received enough petitions to adequately reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the first six months of 2008.

Currently, returning workers who were counted toward H-2B caps for FY 2004, FY2005 or FY2006 were exempt from the current limitation. However, Congress has not yet reauthorized or extended the returning worker provision for 2008. Because of this lack of legislative action by Congress, USCIS is required to count all petitions for H-2B visas for an employment start date of October 1, 2007 or later toward the FY2008 H-2B cap.

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Wed, 03 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Eliminates Backlogs for Permanent Labor Certification Pr http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_labor_eliminates_backlogs_for_permanent_labor_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=525 Department of Labor Eliminates Backlogs for Permanent Labor Certification Program

 

Oct 1 2007

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that it has eliminated the backlog for foreign labor certifications. Ninety-nine percent of the cases have been completed and DOL is simply waiting for responses for employers from the remaining 1%. More than 300 workers spent nearly 3 years reviewing more than 350,000 pending labor applications; this backlog of cases was due to changes in U.S. regulations in 1997 and 2000.

"Clearing up the Permanent Labor Certification backlog has been a Presidential Management Agenda priority and the job was completed on-time, as promised," said Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor. "Thousands of people are no longer left waiting and wondering, and the department is moving ahead with reforms to streamline existing foreign worker certification programs."

The Permanent Labor Certification program processes requests for foreign workers when U.S. workers are not available to fill employment openings. Changes in immigration laws in 1997 and 2000 led to a large increase in paper applications for this program. This increase in applications led to a rise in processing times and a major backlog of cases.

"We applaud the accomplishments of the dedicated individuals whose critical role allowed the ongoing operation of employment-based immigration programs," said Emily Stover DeRocco, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training. "Their resolve to the mission of seeing the task through to its successful completion is an inspiration to all who serve and do the public's business."

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Mon, 01 Oct 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Starts New Photo Screening Tool as Part of E-Verify Pr http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_starts_new_photo_screening_tool_as_part_of_e-verify_pr http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=526 USCIS Starts New Photo Screening Tool as Part of E-Verify Program

 

Sep 28 2007

This week, USCIS launched a new photoscreening tool to help employers comply with employee eligibility verification issues and to strengthen employer compliance to employment regulations. This new tool is the first step toward giving employers the ability to detect identity fraud during the employment eligibility process.

The new photoscreening tool is the first enhancement to the E-Verify program, the USCIS’s web-based system that enables program-participating employers to verify electronically the employment eligibility of new employees.

Currently, over 23,000 employers use the E-Verify program; roughly 2,000 additional join each month.

“Our current E-Verify system is not fraud-proof and was not designed to detect identity fraud,” said Emilio Gonzalez, director, USCIS. “The photo tool enhancement will give employers an additional resource to help verify identity and employment authorization status and is just one more valuable enhancement to an effective, fair and viable program.”

The photoscreening tool was pilot tested this March. The tool lets employers compare identical photos (e.g.: the photo on an employee’s EAD or green card and the image stored in the USCIS database). Employers can then use this tool to determine whether the document presented to them is a valid photo I.D.

Employers that participate in E-Verify will be trained how to use the tool through an online refresher tutorial. All new E-Verify participants will learn how to use the tool through an updated E-Verify manual, a tutorial and a memorandum of understanding.

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Fri, 28 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Department of State Posts Instructions for DV-2009 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_posts_instructions_for_dv-2009_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=527 Department of State Posts Instructions for DV-2009

 

Sep 26 2007

The Department of State has posted instructions for the 2009 Diversity Lottery program (DV-2009) on its website. The program, which provides up to 55,000 Diversity Visas each year to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S., will begin accepting applications at noon EST Wednesday, October 3, 2007 and will stop accepting applications at noon EST Sunday, December 2, 2007. Applicants should use the online registration form, available at www.dvlottery.state.gov to apply for the visa program.

To be eligible for the DV-2009 program, you must be a native of an eligible country and you must meet the education or work experience requirement of the program (either a high school education or its equivalent or two years work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years or training or experience to conduct).

The following is a list of ineligible countries for DV-2009:

Brazil, Canada, China (Mainland-Born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom (with the exception of Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Please note that individuals born in Hong Kong Sar, Macau Sar And Taiwan are eligible to participate in DV-2009.

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Wed, 26 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DREAM Act Introduced in Senate http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dream_act_introduced_in_senate_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=528 DREAM Act Introduced in Senate

 

Sep 21 2007

On September 21, Senator Durbin (D-IL) introduced, as an amendment to the defense authorization bill, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2007 (DREAM). This Act, if voted into law, would provide access to college for immigrant students in the U.S. and would give immigrant children who are motivated to pursue higher education or military service a path to permanent residence.

The Senate will soon vote on the DREAM Act. We will keep you posted on legislative news related to this amendment in the near future.

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Fri, 21 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Visas to India to be Processed by U.S. Firm http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/visas_to_india_to_be_processed_by_u.s._firm_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=529 Visas to India to be Processed by U.S. Firm

 

Sep 19 2007

In response to the increased number of Americans traveling to India for business and vacation, the Indian Embassy has outsourced its visa collection and delivery processes to a U.S. firm. Visa applications at the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and at the consulates general in Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco will be managed by Travisa Outsourcing, Inc., as of October 1, 2007.

The company will charge a service fee of $13 per visa application; individuals that drop off their applications can expect processing on that day. Applications received by mail will be completed by the day after receipt. In addition, there will be a 24/7 call center available for questions and concerns.

“Rapid transformation of India-US relations in recent years has been manifested in an unprecedented growth of business travelers, tourists and other US residents to India and the introduction of several non-stop and additional travel services between the two countries,” said Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen.

“With burgeoning cooperation in the economic, commercial, technological, educational, cultural and other fields and with increasing close bonds of the Indian American community with the country of origin, the demands for visa and other consular services continues to grow.”

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Wed, 19 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Leading U.S. Governors Urge the House and Senate to Increase http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/leading_u.s._governors_urge_the_house_and_senate_to_increase http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=530 Leading U.S. Governors Urge the House and Senate to Increase H-1B and Permanent Visas for Skilled Workers

 

Sep 13 2007

This week, thirteen U.S. governors sent a letter to leading senators and representatives strongly urging them to take action this year to increase the amounts of available H-1B visas and permanent resident visas for skilled workforce candidates.

“If states like ours are to remain world leaders in innovation and intend to continue to see the job growth that is so vital to our economies, we must keep our employers in our states and ensure there is a skilled workforce in the country to fill their immediate needs,” wrote the governors. “While wholesale immigration reform may not be possible in the 110th Congress, we urge Congressional action this year that recognizes states’ immediate need to recruit and retain professionals in key sectors, while we continue to produce here at home the skilled workforce our companies need in the long-term.”

Signatories of the letter included: Christine O. Gregoire (WA), Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), Mitch Daniels (IN), Bill Ritter (CO), Deval Patrick (MA), Dave Freudenthal (WY), Eliot Spitzer (NY), Janet Napolitano (AZ), Jim Doyle (WI), Kathleen Sebelius (KS), Tim Pawlenty (MN), Jim Gibbons (NV) and Rick Perry (TX).

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Thu, 13 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts New Update Regarding Applications and Receipt Da http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_new_update_regarding_applications_and_receipt_da http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=531 USCIS Posts New Update Regarding Applications and Receipt Dates

 

Sep 9 2007

USCIS posted an update this week advising applicants that, because of the large increase in the amounts of applications filed recently, the processing of fee payments and entering cases into their tracking system is behind schedule. Because of this, applicants should expect a delay in receiving their Notifications of Receipt. According to USCIS, as long as all other eligibility requirements are met, these delays should not affect applicants’ Changes of Status or Extensions of Stay. In addition, premium processing requests will continue to be processed within 15 business days.

As of September 7, 2007, USCIS has completed data entry and has issued Notifications of Receipt for applications/petitions received on or before the following dates:

Form Number (Date Received)

California Service Center

I-130 (8/07/2007)
N-400 (7/24/2007)
All Other Forms (8/28/2007)

Nebraska Service Center

I-131 (7/29/2007)
I-140 (7/29/2007)
I-485 Employment-based (7/29/2007)
I-765 (7/29/2007)
N-400 (7/25/2007)
All Other Forms (8/05/2007)

Texas Service Center

I-131 (7/02/2007)
I-140 (7/02/2007)
I-485 Employment-Based (7/02/2007)
I-765 (7/02/2007)
N-400 (7/16/2007)
All Other Forms (8/19/2007)

Vermont Service Center

I-130 (7/26/2007)
N-400 (7/22/2007)
All Other Forms (8/30/2007)

USCIS Lockbox

I-485 Family Based (8/15/2007)

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Sun, 09 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces New Nonimmigrant Visa for Victims of Crimes http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_new_nonimmigrant_visa_for_victims_of_crimes_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=532 USCIS Announces New Nonimmigrant Visa for Victims of Crimes

 

Sep 6 2007

USCIS announced this week that it will soon publish an interim rule to create a new nonimmigrant classification: the U nonimmigrant visa. This proposed visa would grant temporary immigration benefits to some victims of crimes who assist government officials in investigating or prosecuting that criminal activity.

Victims of criminal activity who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse because of the crime, have information regarding the crime and are willing to help the government investigate the crime may be eligible for this new, proposed visa. The crime in question must have either violated U.S. law or occurred in the U.S., or its territories and possessions.

“Many immigrant crime victims fear coming forward to assist law enforcement because they may not have legal status,” said Emilio Gonzalez, director of USCIS. “We’re confident that we have developed a rule that meets the spirit of the Act; to help curtail criminal activity, protect victims, and encourage them to fully participate in proceedings that will aid in bringing perpetrators to justice.”

Individuals who are granted U visas can stay in the U.S. for up to four years and may bring eligible family members with them (including spouses, children, parents and unmarried siblings under the age of 18). In addition, these individuals will be given referrals to nongovernmental organizations that can assist them with their varied needs; these individuals will also receive automatic employment authorization. Ten thousand U visas will be available each fiscal year; this number will not apply to eligible family members of U candidates.

USCIS has developed new forms for applicants for the U visa, including Form I-918, the Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status and Form I-918, Supplement A, the Petition for Qualifying Family Member of U-1 Recipient.

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Thu, 06 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Homeland Security Reminds Public That the Temporary WHTI Acc http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/homeland_security_reminds_public_that_the_temporary_whti_acc http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=533 Homeland Security Reminds Public That the Temporary WHTI Accommodation Has Ended

 

Sep 5 2007

The Department of Homeland Security has published a reminder to air carriers and the public that the temporary accommodation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) that allowed U.S. citizens to travel by air within the Western Hemisphere using a proof of passport application receipt from the Department of State expired at midnight on September 30, 2007.

As of October 1, 2007, U.S. citizens traveling by air to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda are required to show a passport or other WHTI-compliant document to enter or leave the U.S.

The temporary accommodation was announced in June of this year, in response to the longer than normal wait times people were experiencing waiting for passport applications to be processed.

For more information on WHTI-compliant travel documents, please visit www.dhs.gov. To apply for a U.S. passport, please visit www.travel.state.gov.

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Wed, 05 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
2009 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration to Open on October http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/2009_diversity_visa_lottery_registration_to_open_on_october_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=534 2009 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration to Open on October 3, 2007

 

Sep 4 2007

The Department of State announced recently that it will begin accepting applications for the 2008 Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery starting at noon, EST, October 3, 2007 and will accept applications until noon, EST, December 2, 2007. To apply for the DV Lottery program, you should apply through the DOS online system, available at www.dvlottery.state.gov on or after October 3.

The DV Lottery program is open to individuals from countries that have sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the past five years. In 2008, countries that were ineligible for the program included: Brazil, Canada, mainland China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom (including its dependent territories, except for Northern Ireland), and Vietnam. Information about eligibility for the 2009 program will be available online shortly.

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Tue, 04 Sep 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS publishes Final Rules on Air and Sea Screening Programs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_publishes_final_rules_on_air_and_sea_screening_programs_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=535 DHS publishes Final Rules on Air and Sea Screening Programs

 

Aug 29 2007

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a series of regulations regarding screening air and sea passengers, including the controversial Secure Flight program. The program, which was put into law by a final rule, gives the Transportation Security Administration completely take over screening airline passengers for names on government watch lists.

"Under [this] program, TSA would receive passenger and certain non-traveler information from aircraft operators, conduct watch-list matching, and transmit watch-list matching results back to aircraft operators," said a DHS representative.

Additional notices were published, including a system of records for the advanced passenger-information system and a final rule giving air and sea vessel operators information on where to submit electronic information on their passengers.

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Wed, 29 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Number of Foreign Students Entering the U.S. Grows http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/number_of_foreign_students_entering_the_u.s._grows_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=536 Number of Foreign Students Entering the U.S. Grows

 

Aug 28 2007

According to the Council of Graduate Schools, the number of foreign students who were sent admissions offers from U.S. graduate schools rose this year by eight percent, good news for the U.S. education system that saw a massive drop in international student populations in 2004. This year’s gain, coupled with last year’s twelve percent increase, will greatly contribute to the recovery from the hit U.S. institutions took when the admissions numbers dropped in 2004.

"Institutions are aware of the increase in competition for international students," said Kenneth E. Redd, Director of Research and Public Analysis for the Council of Graduate Studies. "The fact that we have a large share of respondents who have these programs, at the same time that we know the international admissions offers are rising, is an indication that universities are trying to remain attractive to international students."

Much of the increase in numbers see in the past three years comes from collaborative degree programs (partnerships with international universities). The majority of these collaborations are with European institutions; however, some are now being established with universities in India and China.

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Tue, 28 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes Proposed Rule to Terminate Forms I-551 Witho http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_proposed_rule_to_terminate_forms_i-551_witho http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=537 USCIS Publishes Proposed Rule to Terminate Forms I-551 Without Expiration Dates

 

Aug 22 2007

Currently, there are a number of lawful permanent residents that have Forms I-551, the Permanent Resident Card, with no expiration date. However, this practice is being terminated by USCIS and individuals with Forms I-551 without expiration dates will be required to apply for replacement cards. In a proposed rule, just published by USCIS, these individuals would be given 120 days to apply for replacement cards.

In addition, the proposed rule calls to remove references to outdated application procedures for Firms 1-551. According to USCIS, “the application process proposed by this rule will enable USCIS to issue more secure Forms I-551 to affected aliens, update cardholder information, conduct background checks, and electronically store applicants' biometric information that can be used for biometric comparison and authentication purposes consistent with the goals of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002.”

USCIS intends to inform the public of this termination date by a notice that will be published in the Federal Register.

Written comments about this proposed rule should be submitted to USCIS on or before September 21, 2007 online at http://www.regulations.gov or via email at rfs.regs@dhs.gov. The DHS Docket number for this proposed rule, USCIS-2005-0056, should be included in the subject line of your email message.

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Wed, 22 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CBP SENTRI Program Now Accepting Payments Online http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cbp_sentri_program_now_accepting_payments_online_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=538 CBP SENTRI Program Now Accepting Payments Online

 

Aug 21 2007

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced last week that frequent travelers crossing the U.S./Mexico border can now use a web-based method to apply for and administer aspects of their participation in that organization’s Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) program.

SENTRI is a program implemented for frequent travelers that has created dedicated lanes and expedited processing for pre-approved, low–risk travelers. Applicants in the program voluntarily go through a background check, in-person interview and fingerprinting, and pay a 5-year membership fee. The program, launched online in November, 2006, has decreased processing times for these travelers from several weeks to the current average of four to six weeks.

With this new web-based method, SENTRI participants can now pay application and other fees related to SENTRI online. New applicants can now pay their initial $25 application fee through their online account. Current members can also pay other fees online, such as the membership card and the vehicle decal replacement.

“As the SENTRI program continues to increase in popularity with frequent travelers along the U.S.-Mexico border, we are excited to offer an online fee payment capability to better facilitate the application process,” said W. Ralph Basham, Commissioner of CBP.

New applicants can receive conditional approval of their applications online. They then schedule an appointment through the online scheduling tool. Finally, they complete the interview and fingerprinting process in person, and pay the final, remaining fee of $102. The total cost to participate in SENTRI is $127.

Please note that all individuals in families that participate in the program, must complete a separate account online and submit a separate application. This includes children; however, there is no initial cost for children’s’ participation in the program. Families, however, will be responsible for providing an additional fee of $204 at the time of the in-person interview.

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Tue, 21 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Homeland Security and Vermont Partner to Create a WHTI-Compl http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/homeland_security_and_vermont_partner_to_create_a_whti-compl http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=539 Homeland Security and Vermont Partner to Create a WHTI-Compliant Document

 

Aug 20 2007

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has signed on to launch a project in collaboration with Vermont to enhance the state’s driver’s license security and to develop a possible alternative document for crossing U.S. land and sea borders.

The project, coined the ‘Vermont Project’, is similar to a recent agreement with the state of Washington made earlier this year, and is one possible way to reach compliance with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). WHTI will require by January 31, 2008 that U.S. and Canadian citizens present either a WHTI-compliant identification document or a government-issued photo ID (e.g.: a driver’s license), along with proof of citizenship (e.g.: a birth certificate), to enter the U.S. Homeland Security intends to end the currently routine practice of accepting simply oral declarations at land and sea ports of entry. In addition, they will start implementing alternative procedures for entry for U.S. and Canadian children.

"I applaud the leadership of the state of Vermont who came forward to join us in our effort to bolster security through secure identification," said Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security. "This partnership helps us strike the right balance between security and facilitation, incorporating 21st century technology and innovation."

Vermont, as part of the agreement with DHS, will create an enhanced driver's license that will give their state’s residents (that voluntarily apply and qualify) a document they may use at U.S. land and sea ports. This ‘enhanced’ driver's license will be a bit more expensive than the standard state driver's license and will require proof of citizenship, identity, and residence. In addition, the ‘enhanced’ driver’s license will contain security features similar to a U.S. passport.

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Mon, 20 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Final Rule Makes New Fee Structure Apply to All Form I-485s http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/final_rule_makes_new_fee_structure_apply_to_all_form_i-485s_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=540 Final Rule Makes New Fee Structure Apply to All Form I-485s

 

Aug 17 2007

USCIS recently posted a final rule regarding fee schedules for immigration petitions and applications. In the final rule, USCIS officially adjusted all fees for Form I-485, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with all applications requesting derivative benefits that are related to Form I-485 submissions.

Our readers should note that this final rule officially removes all temporary adjustments of fees allowed for certain employment-based applications in a previous rule. The fee structure that went into place on July 30, 2007 will now officially apply also for Forms I-485 filed in relation to Visa Bulletin No. 107 and to all ``renewal'' applications for advance parole and employment authorization based on pending Forms I-485 filed in relation to Visa Bulletin No. 107.

In addition, USCIS notes that applications that are submitted with the incorrect fee will be rejected.

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Fri, 17 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Amends Time for Expedited Passport Processing http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_amends_time_for_expedited_passport_proce http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=541 Department of State Amends Time for Expedited Passport Processing

 

Aug 16 2007

The Department of State has issued an interim final rule that changes the definition of ‘Expedited Passport Processing’ from the original three-day period to a variable amount of business days, which would be continuously updated on the Department of State’s website at http://www.travel.state.gov.

The Department of State has published this change to ensure that they can continue to offer services that stay consistent with their regulations, even in the face in increases in demands for those services. In addition, the Department of State informs that they’ve created this new regulation so that “the public can easily determine the current standards for expedited passport processing.”

This interim final rule became effective on August 16, 2007. Comments will be accepted by the Department of state up to October 15, 2007.

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Thu, 16 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Asks that Employers Continue to Identify "Returning Wo http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_asks_that_employers_continue_to_identify_%E2%80%9Creturning_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=542 USCIS Asks that Employers Continue to Identify “Returning Workers” on H-2B Petitions with FY2008 Start Dates

 

Aug 7 2007

USCIS is reminding employers who apply for H-2B visas for temporary labor workers that the “Returning Worker” provision in the legislation will expire on September 30, 2007. This provision enables all alien workers to be exempt from annual H-2B fiscal year caps if they were counted toward the H-2B cap limitations in any of the three previous years.

USCIS has recently received applications for H-2B “returning workers” for Fiscal Year 2008. The organization notes, though, that it is uncertain whether Congress will extend the “returning worker” provision. However, USCIS still believes that employers should continue to identify and certify all those temporary workers who can be classified under the “returning worker” category when filing petitions with an FY2008 start date. This will help USCIS to manage cases if the “returning worker” provision is extended by Congress.

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Tue, 07 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces a Delay in Data Entry of Applications http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_a_delay_in_data_entry_of_applications_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=543 USCIS Announces a Delay in Data Entry of Applications

 

Aug 3 2007

USCIS announced today that it has received a large amount of applications in recent days and now has a front log of cases that are awaiting data entry. The federal organization plans to prioritize data entry for certain types of forms to ensure timeliness. Delays, it is important to note, will not affect eligibility for changes of status or extensions of stay, as long as all other eligibility requirements are met by those applicants.

USCIS does note, though, that premium processing cases will continue to be processed within 15 business days, in accordance to current regulations and amendments. For those cases, the date the application was received will be the basis for the 15-day period.

As of August 3, USCIS has completed data entry and issued receipt notices for applications received on or before the following dates:

California Service Center
N-400: 7/16/2007
All Other Forms: 8/1/2007

Nebraska Service Center
I-131: 7/1/2007
I-140: 7/1/2007
I-485 Employment-Based: 7/11/2007
I-765: 7/2/2007
N-400: 7/23/2007
All Other Forms: 8/1/2007

Texas Service Center
I-131: 6/26/2007
I-140: 7/30/2007
I-485 Employment-Based: 6/26/2007
I-765: 6/26/2007
N-400: 7/09/2007
All Other Forms: 7/30/2007

Vermont Service Center
I-129: 7/24/2007
I-130: 7/22/2007
I-539: 7/24/2007
N-400: 7/11/2007
All Other Forms: 7/26/2007

USCIS Lockbox
I-485 Family-Based: 7/24/2007

Please note that it should take roughly two weeks from the dates indicated above for you to receive your receipt notice in the mail. USCIS suggests you wait that 14-day period prior to contacting them for more information.

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Fri, 03 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Creates an Email Inbox for Reports of Potential LCA Viol http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_labor_creates_an_email_inbox_for_reports_of_po http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=544 Department of Labor Creates an Email Inbox for Reports of Potential LCA Violations

 

Aug 2 2007

The Department of Labor (DOL) has created an email address to receive and process all reports of potential violations of a recently published rule that aims to protect the integrity of the Permanent Labor Certification program. The final rule regarding labor certification was published on May 17, 2007.

While DOL is currently considering setting up a tol-free telephone number to intake information, currently employers, foreign nationals, U.S. workers and others may submit information on potential violations through the following email: laborcert.fraud@dol.gov.

This email address will be monitored by DOL representatives for all reports of purported noncompliance to labor certification regulations. The Employment and Training Administration will then determine the appropriate course of action for each report.

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Thu, 02 Aug 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Fee Structure to Start On or After July 30, 2007 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_fee_structure_to_start_on_or_after_july_30%2C_2007_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=545 New Fee Structure to Start On or After July 30, 2007

 

Jul 27 2007

All individuals should note that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) plan to implement a new fee schedule on or after July 30, 2007. This new fee schedule will substantially increase application fees for a range of visa types.

It is essential to note that the existing fee schedule will, however, remain valid for Forms I-485, I-131 and I-765 until August 17, 2007. Existing fees for these visa applications will remain in place for this extended period of time in response to the reversal and re-extension of employment-based Adjustment of Status cases related to the July 2007 Visa Bulletin. Do note, though, that the existing fee schedule only applies to forms submitted in relation cases based on employment-based visa priority dates as published in the July 2007 Visa Bulletin, not all cases.

USCIS comments that this new fee structure is being implemented to reduce the application processing times; the agency notes that their goal is to reduce processing times by 20 percent by 2009.

USCIS does note that they have implemented certain fee waivers, including a fee waiver for the $80 biometric fee for individuals who receive fee waivers for their visa applications (e.g.: asylum applicants, some juvenile immigrants).

The filing fee schedule can be viewed in its entirety at the following URL:

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Fri, 27 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Renews Suspension of Premium Processing for Alien Work http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_renews_suspension_of_premium_processing_for_alien_work http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=546 USCIS Renews Suspension of Premium Processing for Alien Worker Petitions

 

Jul 24 2007

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that they will extend the temporary suspension of the Premium Processing Service for Form I-140, the Immigrant Alien Worker Petitions. This suspension was originally announced on June 27, 2007 and first became active on July 2, 2007. USCIS commented that they expect the volume of Form I-140 petitions filed with a request for premium processing to exceed the organization’s ability to process such cases.

This suspension of the Premium Processing Service, which is used to ensure adjudication of cases within 15 calendar days of receipt, will continue until further notice. USCIS will announce to the public when this suspension has been removed and we will update you accordingly.

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Tue, 24 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Launches Pilot to Test the Secure Information Manageme http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_launches_pilot_to_test_the_secure_information_manageme http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=547 USCIS Launches Pilot to Test the Secure Information Management Service

 

Jul 23 2007

USCIS just launched its first pilot program to test the Secure Information Management Service (SIMS), the agency’s newest web-based information management tool. The pilot program was deployed on July 5, 2007 to process inter-country adoption applications domestically in Memphis, Tennessee and Newark, New Jersey, and internationally in Frankfurt, Germany; Bangkok, Thailand; and Mexico City, Mexico.

During the initial phase of this pilot program, all inter-country adoptions filing requirements and processing dates will not change. Applicants will remain required to submit Form I-600A (the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition), Form I-600 (the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative), and Form N-600 (the Application for Certificate of Citizenship).

After submission of these forms, USCIS will create an individual customer account in the SIMS database and process the applications. During this pilot period, USCIS will work with its employees, the customers and relevant adoption agencies to look specifically at how the pilot tool is working.

USCIS’s goal is to expand the SIMS tool nationwide to include all agency petitions and applications. “The cumulative results of SIMS, the inter-country adoption pilot, and the overall USCIS transformation effort will change the way we do business and will streamline outdated processes,” said Emilio Gonzales, director of USCIS. “These improvements will not only mean better service for our customers, but will also enable us to enhance security, prevent fraud, and equip us with the means for better interaction with other state and federal agencies.”

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Mon, 23 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Approves House Amendment to the Passport Backlog Redu http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_approves_house_amendment_to_the_passport_backlog_redu http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=548 Senate Approves House Amendment to the Passport Backlog Reduction Act

 

Jul 20 2007

Two days ago, the Senate passed the House amendment to the Passport Backlog Reduction Act of 2007. This amendment, that the Senate passed by unanimous vote, will become active once the President signs it into law. The original bill, passed by the Senate on June 29, allowed for the temporary rehiring of Foreign Service retirees to help reduce the backlog in passport applications.

This new amendment contains additional language that allows these rehired retired individuals to assist in passport fraud investigations. In addition, it shortens the period of authorization for these rehired individuals. The expiration date for this authorization period was moved up from September 30, 2010 to September 30, 2008 in this amendment.

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Fri, 20 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reverses Earlier Ruling & Will Now Accept Employment-B http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reverses_earlier_ruling_%26_will_now_accept_employment-b http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=550 USCIS Reverses Earlier Ruling & Will Now Accept Employment-Based Applications to Adjust Status

 

Jul 17 2007

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will immediately start accepting employment-based applications to adjust status (Form I-485) that are filed by alien applicants whose priority dates are current under the July Visa Bulletin (No. 107). USCIS will accept applications as long as they are filed no later than August 17, 2007.

On July 2, USCIS had announced that it would no longer accept any additional employment-based applications to adjust status. This announcement had been made after USCIS received an update from the Department of State (DOS), in which DOS stated that it would not authorize any additional employment based visa numbers for the fiscal year.

However, after consulting with USCIS, DOS decided that Bulletin No. 107 (published June 12, 2007) should be used as the current July Visa Bulletin in regards to determining the availability of employment visa numbers. Visa Bulletin No. 108 (published July 2, 2007) has been officially withdrawn.

“The public reaction to the July 2 announcement made it clear that the federal government’s management of this process needs further review,” said Emilio Gonzalez, director of USCIS. “I am committed to working with Congress and the State Department to implement a more efficient system in line with public expectations.”

Today’s announcement by USCIS enables any alien eligible to apply under the eligibility numbers provided in Visa Bulletin No. 107 the ability to apply for adjustment of status up until August 17, 2007. Please also note that eligible applications that have already been properly filed with USCIS will also be accepted. The current fee schedule, according to USCIS, will apply to all these applications up until August 17, 2007. The new fee schedule, which becomes effective on July 30, 2007, will apply to all other applications that are filed on or after that date.

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Tue, 17 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House of Representatives Votes to Extend SSI Benefits for El http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_of_representatives_votes_to_extend_ssi_benefits_for_el http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=551 House of Representatives Votes to Extend SSI Benefits for Elderly, Disabled Refugees & Asylees

 

Jul 12 2007

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed by a voice vote the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act. This act, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, would extend the period of time in which elderly and disabled refugees, asylees and some other humanitarian immigrants would be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a federally sponsored income supplement program that provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter to elderly, blind and disabled persons.

Currently, eligible immigrants are eligible for SSI benefits for a total period of seven years; this proposed act would extend that period of eligibility to nine years between Fiscal Years 2008-2010.

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Thu, 12 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Solves Problem with Issuance of Form I-797s from CSC http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_solves_problem_with_issuance_of_form_i-797s_from_csc_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=552 USCIS Solves Problem with Issuance of Form I-797s from CSC

 

Jul 11 2007

USCIS announced today that it has resolved the problems that led to delays in the issuance of Form I-797 notices from the California Service Center (CSC). The service center is currently in the process of creating and mailing these delayed approval notices. Individuals affected by this system delay should expect to receive these notices by July 20. Those that do not receive a notice by July 20 should submit an inquiry for review to the following CSC email address: CSC.NoNotice@DHS.Gov. Please note that you should include your receipt number and/or A number with your email inquiry.

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Wed, 11 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Increases the Amount of Workers Processing Passport Appl http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_increases_the_amount_of_workers_processi http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=553 Department of State Increases the Amount of Workers Processing Passport Applications

 

Jul 6 2007

The Department of State (DOS) this week requested 200 additional workers for their Louisiana and New Hampshire locations. These employees, who will be shifted from other positions with DOS, will help process the giant backlog of passport applications, say officials. This need for additional workers was fueled by recent legislation that requires U.S. citizens flying to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean to have passports to return to the U.S.

This new law, which went into effect this January, has caused an increase in the number of passport applications. It is expected that there will be 18 million total passport requests in 2007; last year, that number totaled about 12 million.

DOS published information in early June, informing the public that they had a backlog of 500,000 passport applications. DOS eased restrictions since June, allowing U.S. citizens flying in the Western Hemisphere to use government-issued identification and proof from DOS that they have applied for passports to re-enter the nation.

 

 

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Fri, 06 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Nation Sees Surge in Applications for Naturalization http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nation_sees_surge_in_applications_for_naturalization_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=554 Nation Sees Surge in Applications for Naturalization

 

Jul 5 2007

According to recent data, more legal immigrants are now attempting to become U.S. citizens. Much of this recent increase in requests for citizenship come from three sources, say government officials – proposed increases in fees to process applications for naturalization, “citizenship drives” conducted throughout the U.S. and new feelings of insecurity among legal immigrants currently in the U.S.

New fees are slated to take effect at the end of July. On July 30, the fee to apply for naturalization will increase to $675; that fee is currently $400. In addition, recent failed attempts to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate have fueled concerns among immigrants about the future of immigration in the U.S. and the safety of their current status.

The amount of new, naturalized citizens has grown steadily over the past few years. Last year that number was roughly 702,000. In 2003, that number was roughly 463,000. However, large increases have been seen so far this year and the amount of applications have been increasing each month. In May 2007, 115,175 people submitted applications for naturalization. Last December, that number was only 65,782.

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Thu, 05 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Employment-Based Preference Numbers No Longer Available http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/employment-based_preference_numbers_no_longer_available_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=555 Employment-Based Preference Numbers No Longer Available

 

Jul 3 2007

On Monday, July 2, the Department of State (DOS) issued a revised July 2007 visa bulletin that made unavailable visas for all employment-based preference cases. According to DOS, “the sudden backlog reduction efforts by Citizenship and Immigration Services Offices during the past month have resulted in the use of almost 60,000 Employment numbers. As a result of this unexpected action it has been necessary to make immediate adjustments to several previously announced cut-off dates.”

According to DOS, effective Monday, July 2, 2007, no further authorizations in response to requests for employment-based preference cases will be given. Individuals will now have to wait until October, when preference numbers are again available under the FY-2008 annual cap.

Last month, DOS announced that employment visa numbers were available for all individuals wishing to receive green cards sponsored by their employers (with the exception of unskilled workers). There was a great amount of excitement around this large-scale availability. However, the recent revision to the visa bulletin has completely limited this availability. We will keep you updated as information is published on this topic.

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Tue, 03 Jul 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for Form I-140 Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_suspends_premium_processing_for_form_i-140_petitions_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=556 USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for Form I-140 Petitions

 

Jun 29 2007

USCIS just announced that, effective July 2, 2007, the government organization will temporarily suspend premium processing for Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. USCIS stated that they expect there will be a substantial increase in the amount of employers petitioning for premium processing of Form I-140 because of the demand for preference visa categories available. Information about these available categories are published in the Department of State’s July 2007 Visa Bulletin. USCIS expects to receive more requests for premium processing than they can provide.

The USCIS Premium Processing Service guarantees that petitions will be duly adjudicated within 15 days of receipt. Adjudication in this case means either the issuance of an approval notice, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence or the opening of an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation.

This suspension of premium processing will be active for a period of thirty days, starting July 2, 2007 and ending August 1, 2007. During this period of time, USCIS will determine whether it can process cases within 15 calendar days of receipt. If USCIS can do so, the Premium Processing Service will be reinstated for Form I-140 petitions.

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Fri, 29 Jun 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces Revision in Direct Filing Instructions for V http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_revision_in_direct_filing_instructions_for_v http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=557 USCIS Announces Revision in Direct Filing Instructions for Various Forms

 

Jun 25 2007

Last week, USCIS announced new direct filing procedures for a range of immigration forms that, last year, were transitioned into the Bi-Specialization initiative. ‘Direct filing’ means that applicants would be required to file their petitions and applications with the service center that will be processing their cases, based on the location of their place of temporary employment or residence. That service center would also generate the receipt notice and complete all aspects of the adjudication of their application/petition.

These direct filing instructions refer to Forms I-129F, I-131, I-140, I-360, I-485, I-765 and I-907.

On and after July 30, 2007, petitioners should file all Forms I-140 (and, at the same time, I-907, if seeking premium processing), along with I-485 (and the related forms I-131 and I-765) with either the Nebraska Service Center or the Texas Service Center. The previous instructions called for all of these forms to be filed solely to the Nebraska Service Center. Please note that the location to file a Form I-907 to upgrade a currently pending Form I-140 to premium processing will not change. That form should be filed to the location where the Form I-140 is currently pending adjudication.

Petitioners should file Form -129F with either the Vermont Service Center or the California Service Center, depending on the residential location of the petitioner. It does not matter whether the form is filed for a K-1 fiancée visa or a K-3 spouse visa. Current filing procedures call for the filing of K-1 petitioners to all four Service Centers and the filing of K-3 petitions to the Chicago Lock Box.

USCIS will soon release new forms that include these updated filing procedures. Please note that USCIS will accept all of these forms, if they are submitted to the new locations prior to July 30, as long as all other aspects of the forms are correct.

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Mon, 25 Jun 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
An Update on the Revalidation Process for Certain Visas http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/an_update_on_the_revalidation_process_for_certain_visas_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=558 An Update on the Revalidation Process for Certain Visas

 

Jun 22 2007

According to government sources, applicants abroad who have a U.S. visa that expired within the last year and who are now applying for that same visa category do not need to take part in a visa interview. While these applicants are still required to appear for scanning of their fingerprints, they may simply drop off their documents with the consulate. In addition, if these individuals are seeking an employment-based visas, their visa need not be for the same employer.

Below are some examples of eligible applicants:

1) A person seeking an H-1B visa in July 2007, whose H-1B expired in late 2006.

2) An individual with an H-4 visa that expired in mid-2006 seeking a new H-4 visa.

3) An individual with a B1 or B2 visa that expired in early 2007, seeking a new B-1 or B2 visa.

Applicants eligible for this process will simply need to appear at an outside screening facility for scanning off their fingerprints. After their documents have been collected, they may leave. If their visa is approved, they will receive notice within two weeks. If there are concerns with their application, the consulate will contact them shortly after this initial meeting.

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Fri, 22 Jun 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Provides More Strict Measures for Proof of Passport Appl http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_provides_more_strict_measures_for_proof_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=559 Department of State Provides More Strict Measures for Proof of Passport Application

 

Jun 21 2007

The Department of State has strengthened standards of security for individuals who are using proof that they have applied for passports to enter and re-enter the U.S. from countries in the Western Hemisphere. According to the Department of State, the “locator number” will no longer function as a sole proof of application.

To get the required proof that you have a pending passport application, you should visit travel.state.gov and provide your last name, date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number. You will then receive official proof that you have applied for a passport. This temporary solution will remain in effect until September 30, 2007. The Department of State comments that they will continue to process all passport applications received as soon as possible.

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Thu, 21 Jun 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Brings Immigration Overhaul Bill Back to the Table http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_brings_immigration_overhaul_bill_back_to_the_table_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=560 Senate Brings Immigration Overhaul Bill Back to the Table

 

Jun 14 2007

Last night, leaders in the Senate, after receiving large doses of pressure from pro-immigration organizations and President Bush, agreed to again begin the discussion of how to overhaul U.S. immigration regulations.

The bipartisan group looked through the series of more than 100 amendments and narrowed them down to 11 amendments introduced by Republicans and 11 amendments introduced by Democrats. This compromised bill was then introduced to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), earlier in the day, commented that he believed he would be able to garner support from enough Republicans to get a total of 60 or more votes; this amount would enable the bill to return to the floor for a final vote.

President Bush was quite happy with the return to discussion of immigration reform, especially after the bill was pulled from the Senate floor five days ago. "We are encouraged by the announcement from Senate leaders that comprehensive immigration reform will be brought back up for consideration," said Scott Stanzel, White House spokesman. "We look forward to working with senators as the process moves forward."

However, Senators across the board are still concerned about what will happen to the bill when it officially returns to the Senate floor. "I'm sure senators on both sides of the aisle are being pounded by these talk-radio people who don't even know what's in the bill," said Lott. “Leadership will have to be prepared to do what needs to be done."

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Thu, 14 Jun 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS and DHS Allow for Temporary Travel Flexibility for U.S. http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dos_and_dhs_allow_for_temporary_travel_flexibility_for_u.s._ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=561 DOS and DHS Allow for Temporary Travel Flexibility for U.S. Citizens in the Western Hemisphere

 

Jun 8 2007

A joint announcement was released by the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on June 8, 2007 regarding U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. These individuals who have applied for passports, but not yet received them, according to the two departments, will be temporarily allowed to enter and leave the U.S. by air with a government-issued photo identification and with official proof that they have applied for passports through September 30, 2007.

The two departments are allowing for this exception to the rule because of the longer than expected processing times for passports. The departments have received record-breaking amounts of requests for passports this year.

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Fri, 08 Jun 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Student Interns Added to Proposed Rule Regarding Exchange Vi http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/student_interns_added_to_proposed_rule_regarding_exchange_vi http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=562 Student Interns Added to Proposed Rule Regarding Exchange Visitor Program

 

Jun 6 2007

The Department of State, this week, revised their proposed rule regarding the Exchange Visitor program. The proposed rule now includes a new subcategory of the College and University Student category, the “Student Intern” subcategory. Foreign students who are enrolled and engaged in full-time studies at a post-secondary educational institution outside the U.S. may participate in the Exchange Visitor program under this proposed subcategory. Student interns would be able to participate in a student internship program inside the U.S. for a period of up to 12 months at each degree level.

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Wed, 06 Jun 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Warns Public to Keep Eye Out for Businesses Engaged in http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_warns_public_to_keep_eye_out_for_businesses_engaged_in http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=563 USCIS Warns Public to Keep Eye Out for Businesses Engaged in Immigration Fraud

 

Jun 1 2007

USCIS has published an official warning to the public that, while the U.S. Senate is currently debating major changes to immigration legislation, none of these changes have been passed into law. Individuals should be cautious of any organizations or businesses who propose to be able to help them apply for benefits under the proposed immigration reform legislation. It is essential that you utilize only the resources of trusted individuals and law practices. These proposed reforms are not yet law.

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Fri, 01 Jun 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Publishes Proposed Rule to Revise Exchange Visitor Progr http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_publishes_proposed_rule_to_revise_exchan http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=564 Department of State Publishes Proposed Rule to Revise Exchange Visitor Program

 

May 31 2007

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) just released a proposal to revise rules related to the Exchange Visitor Program. The proposed revision would include a ‘paper review,’ instead of a trial-type hearing, managed by three Review Offices. This review process would be streamlined and would, according to DOS, ensure the same level of due process for applicants.

In addition, the proposed regulation would amend current regulations that would call for program termination if there is a failure to file an annual management audit for the Exchange Visitor program. Finally, a change in the rule would provide for the termination or denial of redesignation for one class of programs, if DOS decides that that program is a compromise to the national security of the U.S. or does not further the public diplomacy mission of DOS.

Comments will be accepted by DOS for 60 days (from May 31, 2007). Submit comments by visiting regulations.gov/index.cfm or by emailing jexchanges@state.gov with the RIN #, “1400-AC29” in your subject line.

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Thu, 31 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes Final Fee Schedule for Immigration Services http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_final_fee_schedule_for_immigration_services_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=565 USCIS Publishes Final Fee Schedule for Immigration Services

 

May 30 2007

After a detailed review of more than 3,900 public comments, USCIS announced this week the final, revised fee schedules for immigration services. The rule, which was published today in the Federal Register, sets all fees for the processing of immigration benefit applications and petitions. Major revisions to the final fee structure include a 25% reduction to the proposed filing fee for Form I-485, the Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident for children age 14 and younger. In addition, the final rule allows for a one-time, free extension of approved orphan petitions for people interested in adoption. Fee waivers for some adjustment of status cases for asylum and humanitarian candidates and some juvenile immigrants were also increased as part of this final rule. Finally, USCIS, as stated in this final rule, will be able to waive the $80 biometric fee, along with the application/petition fee on an individual basis.

“We proposed our new fee structure with the expectation of ongoing discussions with the public on this important issue,” said Emilio Gonzalez, director, USCIS, in a recent public statement. “The volume and value of the comments we received has provided an opportunity to fine-tune our final fee structure that we believe is both fair to our customers and vital to our Nation as we continue to build a secure and efficient national immigration service.”

For a full list of the new fee structure published in this final rule, please visit the USCIS fact sheet at: http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/FinalUSCISFeeSchedule052907.pdf.

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Wed, 30 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Need A Passport? Apply 12 Weeks in Advance http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/need_a_passport_apply_12_weeks_in_advance_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=566 Need A Passport? Apply 12 Weeks in Advance

 

May 24 2007

The Department of State (DOS) announced that it set new records in March and April for passport production for Americans planning to travel internationally. Because of this increase in demand, passport production time should now average about 10 to 12 weeks; DOS guides Americans to apply for a passport at least 12 weeks before planning to travel internationally.

DOS also provided a list of important points for travelers to keep in mind when applying for their passports. Applicants are guided to check their applications against the DOS checklist, available online at travel.state.gov/passport.

In addition, applicants can use a secure, online form to request a passport.

First Time applicants: https://pptform2.state.gov/DS11/MainDS11.aspx
Renewal applicants: https://pptform2.state.gov/DS82/Eligibility.aspx

Travelers can also check the status of their passport applications online at http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/status/status_2567.html.

For more information on expedited processing for passports, visit travel.state.gov.

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Thu, 24 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Will Not Accept Premium Processing for I-140s Requesti http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_will_not_accept_premium_processing_for_i-140s_requesti http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=567 USCIS Will Not Accept Premium Processing for I-140s Requesting Labor Certification Substitution

 

May 22 2007

Last week, USCIS announced that it will terminate Premium Processing Services for all I-140 petitions that request labor certification substitutions, as of May 18, 2007. Because labor certification substitutions will no longer be after mid-July of this year, USCIS expects to receive a large amount of I-140s with premium processing requesting labor certification substitutions. The amount of cases expected to be received will surpass USCIS’s capacity to provide premium processing for those cases.

The Department of Labor, earlier this month, amended its regulations through a final rule that will no longer allow labor certification substitutions. This final rule will take effect July 16, 2007. Premium processing guarantees that cases will be adjudicated within 15 calendar days of receipt of petitions. However, because of the volume of cases USCIS expects to receive, premium processing of these cases will not be possible; USCIS can not guarantee adjudication within 15 calendar days.

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Tue, 22 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Publishes Final Rule on Labor Certification http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_publishes_final_rule_on_labor_certification_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=568 DOL Publishes Final Rule on Labor Certification

 

May 18 2007

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) yesterday published its final rule regarding labor certification substitutions. In the final rule, DOL discussed a range of issues, including labor substitutions, expirations of labor certifications and payments for labor certifications.

At the core of the regulation is the official prohibition of substituting beneficiaries in labor certification cases. On or after July 16, 2007, these substitutions will no longer be allowed (all submitted substitutions prior to that date will not be affected by this rule).

In addition, the rule sets a 180 day validation period for labor certifications. If no I-140 is submitted within 180 days of a labor certification approval, that certification will expire. Please note that for all labor certifications approved before July 16, 2007, the I-140 petition will need to be filed within 180 days of July 16, 2007.

Finally, the new rule bans the sale, barter or purchasing of labor certifications. Based on DOL information, employers can not ask for or accept payments of any kind for any activity related to labor certification approval. This includes the cost of attorney fees. While individuals may seek their own legal representation, the labor certification is considered the duty of the employer.

Again, please note that these regulations will not become law until July 16, 2007.

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Fri, 18 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate, White House Reach Compromise on Immigration Reform, http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate%2C_white_house_reach_compromise_on_immigration_reform%2C_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=569 Senate, White House Reach Compromise on Immigration Reform, Community Organizations Announce It Falls Short of Ideals

 

May 18 2007

After months of debate, key members of both parties of the Senate and representatives from the White House have come to an agreed-upon immigration overhaul compromise. At the core of the compromise is a shift from employment- and family-based immigration to merit-based immigration, where immigrants’ education and skill levels would play more of a role than family relationships in the awarding of green cards.

The compromise is not an ideal solution, however, to overall immigration needs and organizations such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have raised a range of concerns. The compromise calls for sweeping changes that include the following:

(1) Eliminating four out of five family-based green card categories;

(2) Replacing the current employment-based system of immigration with a new, merit-based, point system that does not take into consideration the needs of U.S. employers.

(3) Not including any measure to change green card levels to meet the needs of the US economy;

(4) Not including a path to permanent residency for a majority of nonimmigrant workers.

Yesterday, AILA published a public response to the proposed compromise. In it, the trade organization laid out the varied reasons why it does not support the measures. "This [compromise] is nothing short of high-risk, large-scale social experimentation,” said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, President of AILA. “By untethering the system from its moorings to employer and family relationships, we threaten to dissolve the social fabric that binds immigrant communities …. Moreover, by restricting the ability of new 'guest workers' to bring their families with them or transition to permanent status, we are creating a dynamic that will generate the next group of illegal residents."

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Fri, 18 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS, Backlogged with Data Entry for Standard H-1B Cases, P http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis%2C_backlogged_with_data_entry_for_standard_h-1b_cases%2C_p http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=570 USCIS, Backlogged with Data Entry for Standard H-1B Cases, Projects Timeframes for Completion

 

May 14 2007

Because of the exorbitantly high number of H-1B filings for Fiscal Year 2008, USCIS is currently being slowed down in the receipting/data entry step of processing FY 2008 cases at each of its service centers. USCIS has, though, published projected timeframes for fee receipting and data entry processing for those H-1B submissions chosen for the FY 2008 visa cap. Please note that these projected dates do not apply to H-1B cases submitted with requests for premium processing or for I-129 H-1B cases.

California Service Center: USCIS aims to be able to provide in time-compliance at this Service Center by June 15, 2007.

Nebraska Service Center: USCIS is currently in time-compliance at this Service Center.

Texas Service Center: USCIS is currently in time-compliance at this Service Center.

Vermont Service Center: USCIS aims to be able to provide in time-compliance at this Service Center by June 2, 2007.

USCIS also noted that it may take more time to complete the receipting and data entry portions of some cases. USCIS requests that applicants wait at least 30 days from the applicable receipt processing timeframe stated above before contacting the organization for more information. If you do not receive a response from USCIS within 30 days of that timeframe, it is suggested that you check the USCIS website at uscis.gov, call their customer service line at 1-800-375-5283 or contact our firm for assistance in receiving updated processing information.

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Mon, 14 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
REAL ID Act Receives Criticism from State DMVs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/real_id_act_receives_criticized_from_state_dmvs_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=571 REAL ID Act Receives Criticism from State DMVs

 

May 11 2007

State officials throughout the U.S. are speaking out against the standards set by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for secure drivers licenses and identification cards. In response to DHS’s proposed rule the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and the California Department of Motor Vehicles both commented, that, under guidelines set in the 2005 Real ID Act, the process for counterfeiting licenses would be easier, as counterfeiters would only have to focus on mimicking one standard license, as opposed to 50.

In addition, California’s DMV voiced concern about the fact that the Real ID would require states to provide other states with access to their databases. This shared database of more than 240 million licenses would, in effect, create an enticing target for hackers and other criminals.

The Real ID Act was approved by Congress two years ago, as part of President Bush’s war supplemental and tsunami relief bill. The goal of the act is to improve security by requiring use of an approved identification to fly on commercial airlines and to enter federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

Since it was first passed, the act has received criticism from multiple sources. Over 3,000 comments have been received about the Real ID proposed rules, and many states, including Maine, Idaho and Montana, have rejected provisions of the act.

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Fri, 11 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Ninth Circuit Decides Lolong Case; Other Indonesian Asylum C http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ninth_circuit_decides_lolong_case%3B_other_indonesian_asylum_c http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=572 Ninth Circuit Decides Lolong Case; Other Indonesian Asylum Cases Still Have Chance of Winning

 

May 10 2007

Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied the petition for review in Lolong v. Gonzales. The petitioner, Majorie Konda Lolong, is an ethnic Chinese Christian citizen of Indonesia. The Ninth Circuit stated that it denied Lolong’s asylum application because she did not show any personal discrimination, harassment or violence in Indonesia based on her Chinese ethnicity or her Christian faith. Because of this ruling, the court’s decision in Sael v. Ashcroft remains the law. In that case, Ms. Sael was able to show that she suffered discrimination, harassment and threats of violence in Indonesia because of her Chinese ethnicity, which is a quite common situation in that country.

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Thu, 10 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
US-VISIT Three-Year Pilot Program Completed http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/us-visit_three-year_pilot_program_completed_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=573 US-VISIT Three-Year Pilot Program Completed

 

May 8 2007

Late last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will incorporate biometric exit procedures into the current international visitor departure process. According to DHS, this change will make leaving the U.S. “more convenient and accessible for international visitors.”

Step one in this integration process was the testing of a three-year year pilot program that required international visitors to check out via biometric processes at certain specified airports and seaports. According to DHS, as of May 6, 2007, international visitors will not be required to check out at a US-VISIT kiosk when exiting the U.S. However, international visitors who received a Form I-94 (the Arrival-Departure Record) when entering the U.S. will still need to return that form to an airline or ship representative when leaving the U.S.

As part of the US-VISIT 2007 Expenditure Plan, DHS submitted to Congress an exit plan that incorporates lessons learned during the three-year pilot program. According to that publication, the technology worked effectively; however, there was low traveler compliance to regulations. DHS, based on findings from the pilot program, aims to incorporate the US-VISIT air exit procedures into existing international departure processes for visitors.

DHS plans to start implementing these exit procedures at all commercial airports in the near future. The Department is currently coming up with their ideal strategy; they will publish a regulation on this topic in the near future.

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Tue, 08 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reaches Limit for Cap-Exempt H-1B Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reaches_limit_for_cap-exempt_h-1b_petitions_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=574 USCIS Reaches Limit for Cap-Exempt H-1B Petitions

 

May 4 2007

USCIS has announced that it has received enough H-1B petitions from foreign nationals that received graduate education in the U.S. to meet the Fiscal Year 2008 exemption limit of 20,000. According to USCIS, the final receipt date for these exempt H-1B petitions is April 30, 2007. Any petitions requesting a FY 2008 cap exemption for a worker with a master's or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education received by USCIS on or after May 1, 2007 will be rejected, unless that petition is eligible for another cap exemption category.

According to USCIS procedures, all H-1B petitions that requested the exemption and were received on April 30 will be subjected to a computer generated random selection process. All filings not selected in this process will be rejected and returned to the petitioner, along with the filing fee(s), as long as that petition is not eligible for another H-1B cap exemption. All H-1B petitions requesting this exemption for FY 2008 that were or will be received on or after May 1, 2007 will be rejected by USCIS and returned to the petitioner, along with the filing fee(s), as long as that petition is not eligible for another H-1B cap exemption.

Please note that the earliest you may file a petition for either a cap-subject FY 2009 H-1B employee or a cap-exempt petitioner, for a start date of October 1, 2008, will be April 1, 2008. Until then, you will not be able to submit any H-1B petitions for cap-subject petitioners or this particular cap-exempt category of petitioner.

USCIS will, however, continue to accept and adjudicate petitions for current H-1B workers (who, generally speaking, do not count toward the congressionally-mandated H-1B cap) in the following cases:

~ To extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker can remain in the United States.
~ To change the terms of employment for a current H-1B worker.
~ To allow a current H-1B worker to change employers.
~ To allow a current H-1B worker to work, at the same time, in a second H-1B position.

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Fri, 04 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
dol May Soon Prohibit Substitutions on Labor Certifications http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_labor_may_soon_prohibit_substitutions_on_labor http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=575 Department of Labor May Soon Prohibit Substitutions on Labor Certifications

 

May 3 2007

All signs currently imply that the Department of Labor (DOL) may soon implement a rule that would no longer allow employers to use a previously approved permanent labor certification for a different employee as a ‘substitution of alien beneficiary’.

DOL’s proposed rule on this issue has been under review since it was introduced in February 2006. The Office of Management and Budget recently finished its review of that proposed rule and has cleared the rule for final implementation.

Major aspects of the rule include the following:

1) Prohibition of any changes to any pending or approved labor certification;
2) The barring of any foreign national payments of Employer legal fees; and
3) Limitation of validity periods for approved labor certifications.

DOL’s final rule will most likely look quite similar to the proposed rule. While there may be some changes to the rule due to input from the Office of Management and Budget and other reviewers, it is estimated that, at the very least, the prohibition of substitutions will be included in the final rule.

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Thu, 03 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Updated Numbers for the H-1B Master's Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/updated_numbers_for_the_h-1b_masters_cap_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=576 Updated Numbers for the H-1B Master's Cap

 

May 3 2007

On April 30, 2007, USCIS gave updated numbers of petitions received for the H-1B visa master's cap. As of Friday, USCIS has received 19,887 petitions for this visa program for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. 20,000 petitions total will be allowed, which means that there are less than 200 petitions left.

The H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 changed filing procedures for the H-1B visa, making available 20,000 new H-1B visas for foreign workers who received a Master’s or higher degree from a U.S. academic institution.

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Thu, 03 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Temporary Protected Status Extended for Hondurans, Nicaragua http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/temporary_protected_status_extended_for_hondurans%2C_nicaragua http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=577 Temporary Protected Status Extended for Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans

 

May 2 2007

The Department of Homeland Security today extended by 18 months Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible citizens of Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. This extension will allow individuals from these countries in the U.S. under TPS status to continue living and working in the U.S.; more than 300,000 TPS beneficiaries from Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador will be affected by this change.

Current designations for TPS individuals form Honduras and Nicaragua were slated to expire on July 5, 2007; designations for Salvadorans were to expire on September 9, 2007. While official re-registering periods have not yet begun, USCIS has announced they will start processing re-registration for Honduran and Nicaraguan TPS beneficiaries first; the process will begin later this summer for Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries. Details on where and when to re-register should be published shortly by USCIS.

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Wed, 02 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Pro-Immigration Protesters Take to the Street on May Day http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/pro-immigration_protesters_take_to_the_street_on_may_day_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=578 Pro-Immigration Protesters Take to the Street on May Day

 

May 1 2007

Protesters throughout the United States today took to the streets to demand a path to citizenship for the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants currently living and working in the United States. Organizers of these events said that there is a renewed energy to the pro-immigration movement with the upcoming 2008 presidential election.

"If we don't act, then both the Democratic and Republican parties can go back to their comfort zones and do nothing," said Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in the LA Times. "They won't have the courage to resolve a major situation for millions of people."

Events were held in nearly all major cities in the U.S., including Los Angeles, New York City, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Phoenix and Chicago. However, no official events were scheduled in Atlanta, due to the recent passing of strict anti-immigrant legislation in that state. This year’s May 1 events were not as large as last years, due in large part to increases in restrictive legislation at the state levels. However, the energy of last year’s events was still quite present at all rallies held today and demonstrators throughout the country echoed their demand for responsible immigration policies in this country.

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Tue, 01 May 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Updated Numbers for the H-1B Master's Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/updated_numbers_for_the_h1b_masters_cap_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=579 Updated Numbers for the H-1B Master's Cap

 

Apr 30 2007

On April 27, 2007, USCIS gave updated numbers of petitions received for the H-1B visa master's cap. As of Friday, USCIS has received 19,673 petitions for this visa program for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. 20,000 petitions total will be allowed, which means that there are less than 1,000 petitions left.

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Mon, 30 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
InfoPass Pilot Program Speeds Up Waiver of Excludability Pro http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/infopass_pilot_program_speeds_up_waiver_of_excludability_pro http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=580 InfoPass Pilot Program Speeds Up Waiver of Excludability Process in Consular Offices Abroad

 

Apr 26 2007

Earlier this year, USCIS’s Ciudad Juaraz, Mexico office, in collaboration with the State Department, started a new pilot program that would allow for same-day adjudication of many Waivers of Excludability (Form I-601). Immigrants that need consular immigrant visa processing and have been found inadmissible to the U.S. by a consular officer are, in many cases, allowed to file a waiver to explain various inadmissibilities (e.g.: immigration and criminal violations and health-related issues).

Waiver applicants in the Ciudad Juarez office are able to use InfoPass, USCIS’s online appointment system, to select a date and time when they can return to the consulate to file their waiver. The online service is available online at www.infopass.uscis.gov. An USCIS adjudication officer will review that waiver and its supporting documents at the time it is submitted by the applicant. The officer then will either approve the waiver or refer it to further review.

As part of the waiver process, the applicant will need to show that his or her spouse/parent would suffer “extreme hardship” if he or she were not allowed to return to the U.S. Prior to approval of the waiver and issuance of the visa, a detailed set of security checks would be made.

The pilot program has, so far, been able to speed up the process and enable these immigrants to return to care for their families in a reasonable amount of time.

“This ground making pilot program makes sense and ensures that qualifying immigrants return to their families without unnecessary delays,” said Warren Janssen, the Officer-in-Charge of the Ciudad Juarez office. “Those applicants that file a well prepared I-601 and who otherwise do not have any serious adverse issues to be addressed will, in many cases, be approved and be able to receive their visas on the same day.”

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Thu, 26 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Updated Numbers on H-1B Masters’ Cap Visa Availability http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/updated_numbers_on_h-1b_masters%E2%80%99_cap_visa_availability_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=581 Updated Numbers on H-1B Masters’ Cap Visa Availability

 

Apr 24 2007

Yesterday, USCIS provided updated numbers of H-1B visa masters’ cap visa petitions they received during early April. As of April 18, 2007, USCIS has received roughly 18,000 H-1B petitions for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. 20,000 petitions from these candidates, according to legislation passed by Congress, are exempt from the H-1B visa cap, which means there are still about 2,000 H-1B advanced degree petitions still available for Fiscal Year 2008. However, please note that these additional 2,000 available petitions may be gone by the end of the week.

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Tue, 24 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Creates New Internal Security Office http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_creates_new_internal_security_office_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=582 USCIS Creates New Internal Security Office

 

Apr 19 2007

Two months ago, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created the Office of Security and Integrity (OSI), an internal office with the specific mission of ensuring USCIS maintains critical organizational security for its employees and facilities.

“USCIS must be the fairest, most secure, professional national immigration agency in the world,” said USCIS Director, Emilio Gonzales. “In order to succeed in that mission, we must ensure that our own security and integrity is beyond reproach and that our employees and facilities are secure. We developed OSI with that purpose in mind. Through the office, we will elevate and increase the visibility of USCIS internal security and integrity programs.”

OSI officially began last month, in response to an internal USCIS review that suggested the organization combine its audit liaison and the internal self inspection portions of the Office of Planning, Budget and Finance with USCIS’s Office of Security and Investigations. USCIS intends to triple OSI’s staff to a total of 64 by next year. Primary tasks for the new office include hiring more security and investigative specialists and increasing USCIS’s overall focus on integrity during its immigration officer basic training course, offered in Brunswick, GA.

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Thu, 19 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
FY 2008 H-1B Petition Lottery Now Completed http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/fy_2008_h-1b_petition_lottery_now_completed_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=583 FY 2008 H-1B Petition Lottery Now Completed

 

Apr 17 2007

The USCIS has officially submitted notice that it has conducted and completed the computer-generated random selection process to choose which H-1B petitions, subject to the H-1B visa cap for FY 2008, will continue to final processing for the upcoming fiscal year. USCIS noted that it received a total of 123,480 petitions for cap-subject H-1B visas on April 2 and 3. Each petition was labeled with a unique numerical identifier, then placed into the coffer for random selection by computer. All petitions that were chosen were then forwarded to the relevant Service Center for continued processing.

Applicants whose petitions were chosen should receive a receipt notice within the next four weeks. All applicants whose petitions were not chosen will receive their applications in the mail, along with their filing fee.

For all cases that were filed with requests for premium processing, the 15-day premium processing period will begin on April 12, the date these petitions were chosen by the random selector.

USCIS has also noted that they will continue to provide updates regarding the processing of these H-1B petitions as information is received. USCIS has not commented specifically about petitions applicable for the Advanced Degree Exception, but has previously noted that roughly 13,000 of the H-1B petitions received on April 2 and 3 were counted against the 20,000 exemption for foreign nationals with masters’ or above degrees from U.S. universities, which means that this cap has not yet been reached.

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Tue, 17 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
H-1B Process Begins, Adjudication Starts April 13 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-1b_process_begins%2C_adjudication_starts_april_13_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=584 H-1B Process Begins, Adjudication Starts April 13

 

Apr 13 2007

Michael Aytes, Associate Director for Domestic Operations for USCIS, informed a group of specialists that the H-1B Random Number Generator was run yesterday, April 12, 2007. According to Aytes, the adjudication process for non-U.S. Master’s degree cap subject H-1B petitions will not begin before April 13, 2007. USCIS comments that if you’ve received an approval notice for one of these petitions before April 13, you should verify that approval notice either through the Premium Processing Unit that issued the notice or with the National Customer Service Center.

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Fri, 13 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions Will Begin After Compu http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/premium_processing_for_h-1b_petitions_will_begin_after_compu http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=585 Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions Will Begin After Computer-Generated Random Lottery

 

Apr 10 2007

USCIS announced yesterday that the 15-day premium processing period for H-1B petitions filed for Fiscal Year 2008 visas will start after the computer-generated random lottery has selected which petitions will be processed. USCIS had announced last week that they had received enough H-1B petitions to meet the Cap for FY 2008.

Because a high volume of petitions were received on April 2 and 3, USCIS will be required to place this condition on the premium processing service, which, under normal conditions, ensures that an H-1B application is adjudicated within 15 days. USCIS received 133,000 mail packages on April 2 and 3, all of which contained H-1B petitions. Further, each of those packages may contain more than one petition. Regulations prohibit USCIS from starting the adjudication process for any of these cases until the computer-generated random lottery is conducted. All petitions that are not chosen in the lottery will be returned, along with their application fees.

In addition, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions received on behalf of internationals with masters’ or above degrees from U.S. institutions will be exempted from the cap. However, if USCIS receives more than 20,000 petitions that match this exemption, all those H-1B exempt petitions will be subject to their own computer-generated random lottery. Those exemption H-1Bs not picked in that initial lottery will then have one more chance with the larger random lottery of all H-1B petitions received on April 2 and 3.

Finally, USCIS notes that it does not plan in the future to suspend or terminate the premium processing service for H-1B petitions.

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Tue, 10 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Technology Companies Speak Out Against the H-1B Visa Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/technology_companies_speak_out_against_the_h-1b_visa_cap_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=586 Technology Companies Speak Out Against the H-1B Visa Cap

 

Apr 5 2007

As many of you know the USCIS reached its limit for Fiscal Year 2008 H-1B visa petitions in a single day. No more petitions for that visa category (with the exception of certain exemptions) will be accepted for this fiscal year. Technology companies, in response to this dire situation, have again raised their voice, calling for a change to the limiting and business-debilitating visa cap.

In Microsoft Corporation’s case, for example, nearly 1/3 of all its 46,000 employees in the U.S. either have work visas or are legal permanent residents. “We are trying to work with Congress to get the cap increased,” said Ginny Terzano, spokeswoman for the technology giant. “Our real preference is that there not be a cap at all.”

Microsoft and other leaders in the high tech industry, such as Intel and Oracle, have grouped together to form Compete America, a coalition/lobbying group that is publicly speaking against the limiting visa cap.

"Our broken visa policies for highly educated foreign professionals are not only counterproductive, they are anticompetitive and detrimental to America's long-term economic competitiveness," said Robert Hoffman, a vice-president at Oracle and co-chairman of Compete America.

“While we need to do more as a nation to encourage American students to pursue degrees in the fields of math, science, engineering and technology, the fact remains that more than one-half of the U.S. advanced degrees in these fields are typically earned by foreign students. U.S. companies must be able to recruit from this talent pool if we are to continue to innovate and create quality jobs here in the United States,” Hoffman stated. “Congress must reform the visa process for highly educated foreign professionals this year.”

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Thu, 05 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reaches FY 2008 H-1B Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reaches_fy_2008_h-1b_cap_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=587 USCIS Reaches FY 2008 H-1B Cap

 

Apr 3 2007

The USCIS announced today that it has received enough H-1B visa petitions to meet the Fiscal Year 2008 cap. USCIS comments that they will use a random selection process for all the H-1B filings subject to the cap that were received on April 2 and April 3. Any petition received on those days but not chosen in the random selection process will be rejected and returned to the petitioner, along with the filing fee. In addition, any cap-subject petitions received on or after April 4, 2007 will be rejected. The earliest point that H-1B visas, subject to this cap, can be re-submitted will be April 1, 2008, when visas become available for Fiscal Year 2009.

As of end-of-day, Monday, USCIS received roughly 150,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions. The next step will be for USCIS to perform initial data entry of all those filings. Because of the amount of petitions received, we expect the random selection process will not begin for at least several weeks.

As of today, USCIS is not sure how many petitions were received for exemption H-1B visas, those 20,000 visas reserved for international petitioners with masters’ or higher degrees received in the U.S. USCIS will soon make an announcement regarding these petitions.

In addition, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed on behalf of H-1B workers that do not count toward the H-1B cap. These petitions include cases to extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the U.S.; change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers; allow current H-1B workers to change employers; or allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

USCIS also notes that any other H-1B cases that are exempted from the cap will not be affected by this announcement.

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Tue, 03 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reminds Applicants of Revised Filing Instructions for http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reminds_applicants_of_revised_filing_instructions_for_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=588 USCIS Reminds Applicants of Revised Filing Instructions for Forms I-129 and I-539

 

Apr 2 2007

USCIS posted a reminder to all customers that, as of Monday, April 2, 2007 all forms I-129 and I-539 should be filed directly with either the California or the Vermont Service Centers, whichever is applicable. To help you figure out which Service Center to file your applications to, USCIS has released two separate filing charts for each of the forms. Revised Forms I-129 and I-539, as posted online, will now reflect the correct direct filing address. It is essential that you file your forms with the correct Service Center. Please verify that you are using the correct filing address by doublechecking the information on the instructions of your form.

Please note that the Service Center where you file your petition will also be the Center that generates your receipt notice and completes adjudication of your case. USCIS believes that this new process will ensure that cases are processed in a more timely manner.

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Mon, 02 Apr 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS to Start Accepting H-1B Petitions for FY 2008 on April http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_start_accepting_h-1b_petitions_for_fy_2008_on_april http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=589 USCIS to Start Accepting H-1B Petitions for FY 2008 on April 2

 

Mar 30 2007

The USCIS will start accepting H-1B petitions for the Fiscal Year 2008 H-1B visa cap, starting Monday, April 2. Cases received during this coming weekend (March 31 or April 1) will not be rejected. Instead, USCIS will treat those cases as if they arrived on April 2. Please note that dates for consideration of your H-1B petitions are not based on the postmark of the mailing, but on the date they are received by USCIS. As soon as the cap has been reached, USCIS will publicly post that they will not be accepting any additional petitions for this category for FY 2008. For this reason alone, it is essential that all clients immediately act to finalize any H-1B cases for FY 2008.

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Fri, 30 Mar 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Will Accept Screen Prints of LCA Certifications for FY http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_will_accept_screen_prints_of_lca_certifications_for_fy http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=590 USCIS Will Accept Screen Prints of LCA Certifications for FY 2008 H-1Bs

 

Mar 30 2007

The USCIS will start accepting H-1B visa petitions for the Fiscal Year 2008 visa cap April 2. With this announced date comes a range of issues and concerns regarding submissions of H-1B visas. Today, USCIS commented on concerns raised about a glitch with the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website.

Apparently, the DOL’s website, through which a Labor Condition Application (LCA) is requested, has not consistently been able to print copies of certified LCAs after completion of the certification process.

USCIS, in response to this technical problem, is guiding its officers to accept H-1B petitions filed without a copy of that certified LCA for the FY 2008 cap, as long as those filings are submitted with screen prints from the DOL website showing certification for those LCAs on March 30, or any other day on which the USCIS can verify that there were problems with the DOL’s website.

Please note that this screen print must include the following information: (1) the ETA case number; (2) the petitioner EIN; and (3) the employer name.

USCIS, at a later date and prior to official adjudication of this case, may ask for actual copies of the certified LCA, but these screen prints will suffice for now.

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Fri, 30 Mar 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Consular Offices Abroad Have Resumed Accepting I-130 Petitio http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/consular_offices_abroad_have_resumed_accepting_i-130_petitio http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=591 Consular Offices Abroad Have Resumed Accepting I-130 Petitions

 

Mar 27 2007

According to USCIS, U.S. citizens who live abroad, including members of the armed forces, can now resume filing the Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with a U.S. embassy or consulate in countries where there is no USCIS international office.

USCIS international offices will continue to accept I-130 petitions from U.S. citizens living in countries where those offices are located and there is no expected interruption in this service. For more information about these international offices, visit: https://egov.immigration.gov/crisgwi/go?action=offices.

All consular offices and internationally-based USCIS officers will also accept petitions from certain individuals who do not live abroad in the following cases:

~ Emergency situations, such as life and death, health and safety, etc.
~ Situations where allowing for an overseas filing would be considered in the national interest, such as processing petitions filed by U.S. military personnel stationed overseas who are in the middle of a transfer of orders.

According to the Department of State, a U.S. citizen who has been living outside of the U.S. for a minimum of six months is considered as residing overseas, for the purposes of accepting filed-in forms I-130. Please note that U.S. citizens who are outside the U.S. for short periods of time, but who live within the U.S. should file their I-130 petitions with the correct service center in the U.S., not abroad.

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Tue, 27 Mar 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Homeland Security and Washington State Agree to Develop Enha http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/homeland_security_and_washington_state_agree_to_develop_enha http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=592 Homeland Security and Washington State Agree to Develop Enhanced Driver’s Licenses

 

Mar 26 2007

Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the state of Washington signed a Memorandum of Agreement to launch a new, pilot program that aims to enhance the security of that state’s driver’s licenses and, in addition, serve as an alternate method to cross the United States’ land and sea borders.

This pilot program is one way to fulfill portions of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which would soon require U.S. citizens reentering the country from Canada, Mexico, Central and South American, the Caribbean and Bermuda by either land or sea to present a valid U.S. passport or other document approved by Homeland Security.

Under the new agreement, Washington would develop an enhanced driver’s license for its residents who voluntarily apply and qualify, and would include a document acceptable for reentry at U.S. land and sea ports. This enhanced driver’s license would be more expensive than the currently provided one, would require additional proofs of identity, citizenship and residency and would contain security measures similar to a U.S. passport.

The agreement is the first step toward making reasonable alternatives for ease of travel for conscientious and law-abiding U.S. citizens and is a good step toward a sensible overall border security initiative.

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Mon, 26 Mar 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOJ Announces the Opening of 3 New Immigration Courts http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/doj_announces_the_opening_of_3_new_immigration_courts_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=593 DOJ Announces the Opening of 3 New Immigration Courts

 

Mar 20 2007

The U.S. Department of Justice late last week announced that it will open three new immigration courts in Kansas City, MO, Dallas, TX and Charlotte, NC. The U.S. currently has 54 immigration courts, but a need for additional courts is warranted, says the DOJ, due to growing concerns about mounting immigration caseloads throughout the country.

“It’s the geography, and the need has grown,” said Charles Miller, spokesperson, DOJ. “[We want] to make this easier for those individuals who have notices to appear before immigration judges [to have access to the court system].”

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Tue, 20 Mar 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Proposes Renovating or Replacing Offices with New Cust http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_proposes_renovating_or_replacing_offices_with_new_cust http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=594 USCIS Proposes Renovating or Replacing Offices with New Customer-Centric Facilities

 

Mar 19 2007

Last week, the USCIS announced a new “model office concept” that they hope will change their district and field offices into “standard full-service, community-based customer processing facilities,” according to USCIS. The new offices will contain every resource necessary, according to USCIS, for the processing of all immigration benefits.

In a USCIS press release, the organization stated that these new, customer-centric offices would “make it easier for clients to access services by eliminating the need for them to travel to multiple locations during the application process.” The new model of offices would also increase the level and efficiency of provided services. There would be more opportunities for USCIS officials to conduct interviews, answer questions and conduct naturalization ceremonies at a single location.

USCIS plans to renovate or replace roughly 12 facilities each year. The process will begin with four full-service offices in the Miami area. In addition, USCIS will replace offices in Orlando, FL, Denver, CO Dallas, TX, West Palm Beach, FL and Portland, OR.

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Mon, 19 Mar 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senator Kennedy Pushes for a Return to the Issue of Immigrat http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senator_kennedy_pushes_for_a_return_to_the_issue_of_immigrat http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=595 Senator Kennedy Pushes for a Return to the Issue of Immigration Reform

 

Mar 14 2007

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) has changed his strategy to push forward meaningful immigration reform. He has shifted his efforts from coming up with new legislation to suggesting reconsideration of a comprehensive immigration bill adopted by last year’s Senate Judicial Committee, in an effort to garner key Republican support.

“He strongly feels we have to get moving,” said Laura Capps, communication director for Senator Kennedy. “The Judiciary Committee is well familiar with and invested in this bill.”

In collaboration with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Kennedy has been working throughout the winter on broad immigration reform. The two senators were hoping to introduce a new bill to the Senate this week. However, they have had difficulty in reaching an agreed-upon bill that would be conducive to a large majority of the Senate.

This weekend, Kennedy adopted the new approach of returning to previously adopted legislation as a starting point for the reform debate. “Senator McCain certainly thinks this is a good place to start as long as it's a bipartisan effort,'' said Melissa Shuffield, spokeswoman for the Republican Senator from Arizona. "This still has to be amended. This still has to be debated and he'll be working with people on both sides of the aisle and the White House to come to an agreement on some kind of comprehensive reform."

The bill that was adopted by the Senate Judiciary panel last spring, while different in certain ways from the bill eventually adopted by the Senate two months later, shares basic tenets with that bill. Both bills aimed to increase border enforcement and both supported a version of the guest worker program that would provide a path to legal citizenship for the nearly 12 million undocumented workers currently living in the U.S.

The differences between the two bills, however, resided in the method of providing that path to citizenship. The Judiciary Committee’s bill would give a path to citizenship to any person in the U.S. as of January 7, 2004 who had learned English, paid a fine and back taxes, and had a clean criminal record and work history. The bill that passed the Senate in May 2006 allowed only those illegal immigrants who had been in the U.S. for more than five years that path to citizenship. All others would be required to return to their home country and apply for guest worker status. And undocumented workers who had been in the U.S. for less than two years would be required to return to their home country without a proposed path to citizenship.

The Judiciary Committee’s bill allowed for 400,000 new guest worker visas each year, and allowed for increases in that cap if demanded by the economic market. The Senate bill dropped those numbers to 200,000 and removed the ability to expand the cap.

The question today is what will happen in the upcoming debate about immigration reform. Will the shift in power from a Republican-dominated House and Senate to a Democratic majority lead to immigration reform that supports the economic needs of U.S. businesses? Or will the reform eventually passed be more conservative in its provisions?

We will keep you up to date with all the key points in this debate to reform immigration practices in the U.S.

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Wed, 14 Mar 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Update on the Status of DREAM Legislation http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/update_on_the_status_of_dream_legislation_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=596 Update on the Status of DREAM Legislation

 

Mar 14 2007

The National Immigration Forum recently posted an update on the legislative status of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). The DREAM Act proposes to eliminate the federal regulation discouraging states from giving in-state tuition rates for university education to undocumented individuals that graduated from the states’ public schools. In addition, the DREAM Act would provide a six-year conditional permanent resident status to some of these undocumented students after they graduate from high school. These particular students could then apply to have their conditional status changed to official permanent resident status after completing either two years of college education or two years of military service.

On March 1, 2007, Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1274, the American Dream Act, to the House of Representatives. Five days later, on March 6, 2007, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), along with ten co-sponsors, introduced S. 774, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, to the Senate. As of today, no further action has been taken on these bills, but motions will assuredly soon be taken.

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Wed, 14 Mar 2007 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Obama, Gutierrez Introduce Citizenship Promotion Act of 2007 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/obama%2C_gutierrez_introduce_citizenship_promotion_act_of_2007 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=597 Obama, Gutierrez Introduce Citizenship Promotion Act of 2007

 

Mar 9 2007

Earlier this week, Senator Barak Obama (D-IL) and Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced in their two houses the Citizenship Promotion Act of 2007. This bill, if enacted into law, would authorize USCIS to request and receive appropriations that would make up the difference between current fees charged to citizenship applicants and the necessary resources needed to fund USCIS.

If this bill becomes law, USCIS would not need to implement the substantial increases in citizenship fees that they recently introduced. In turn, the process of becoming a citizen would not be hindered by exorbitant costs.

Co-sponsors of this bill include: Senators Bingaman (D-NM), Menendez (D-NJ), and Salazar (D-CO), and Representatives Abercrombie (D-HI), Grijalva (D-AZ), Honda (D-CA), Pastor (D-AZ), Reyes (D-TX), Schakowsky (D-IL), and Solis (D-CA).

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Fri, 09 Mar 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces Direct Filing Procedure for Forms I-129 and http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_direct_filing_procedure_for_forms_i-129_and_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=598 USCIS Announces Direct Filing Procedure for Forms I-129 and I-539, Effective April 2, 2007

 

Mar 5 2007

Today, the USCIS announced new direct filing instructions for a range of immigration forms recently transitioned into the Bi-Specialization Initiative, which had, before this time, required that applications/petitions be filed at a single, centralized location, then distributed to alternate service centers for receipt notice issuance and final case processing.

These new procedures will affect, among other forms, the Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers, I-129, and the Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status, I-539. Direct filing in relation to other forms will be implemented piecemeal as all application forms are transitioned into the Bi-Specialization Initiative.

According to the newly published procedure, all applicants should Direct File their applications/petitions with the service center that will process their filings. This service center is based on their location of temporary employment or place of residence. The service center that receives their form will also be the place that creates the receipt notice and conducts final processing of their case.

As of April 2, 2007, all I-129 and I-539 forms should be filed directly with either the California or Vermont Service Center. Applicants are required to file their forms with the applicable center; applicants should also verify that they use the correct filing address (this information should be on the instructions of each form).

All employers that request premium processing of Form I-129 should also file a Request for Premium Processing Services, Form I-907. USCIS has provided guidance that they will accept these two forms filed in accordance with the old filing instructions during the first two weeks of the Direct Filing process. However, if these forms are filed to an incorrect filing location on or after April 17, 200, they will be rejected and returned to the applicant with the fee, along with instructions for correct filing procedures.

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Mon, 05 Mar 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Technology Companies Speak Out Against the H-1B Visa Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/technology_companies_speak_out_against_the_h-1b_visa_cap_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=599 Technology Companies Speak Out Against the H-1B Visa Cap

 

Mar 4 2007

As many of you know the USCIS reached its limit for Fiscal Year 2008 H-1B visa petitions in a single day. No more petitions for that visa category (with the exception of certain exemptions) will be accepted for this fiscal year. Technology companies, in response to this dire situation, have again raised their voice, calling for a change to the limiting and business-debilitating visa cap.

In Microsoft Corporation’s case, for example, nearly 1/3 of all its 46,000 employees in the U.S. either have work visas or are legal permanent residents. “We are trying to work with Congress to get the cap increased,” said Ginny Terzano, spokeswoman for the technology giant. “Our real preference is that there not be a cap at all.”

Microsoft and other leaders in the high tech industry, such as Intel and Oracle, have grouped together to form Compete America, a coalition/lobbying group that is publicly speaking against the limiting visa cap.

"Our broken visa policies for highly educated foreign professionals are not only counterproductive, they are anticompetitive and detrimental to America's long-term economic competitiveness," said Robert Hoffman, a vice-president at Oracle and co-chairman of Compete America.

“While we need to do more as a nation to encourage American students to pursue degrees in the fields of math, science, engineering and technology, the fact remains that more than one-half of the U.S. advanced degrees in these fields are typically earned by foreign students. U.S. companies must be able to recruit from this talent pool if we are to continue to innovate and create quality jobs here in the United States,” Hoffman stated. “Congress must reform the visa process for highly educated foreign professionals this year.”

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Sun, 04 Mar 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Has Reached Cap for Fiscal Year 2008 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_has_reached_cap_for_fiscal_year_2008_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=601 USCIS Has Reached Cap for Fiscal Year 2008

 

Mar 3 2007

The USCIS announced today that it has received enough H-1B visa petitions to meet the Fiscal Year 2008 cap. USCIS comments that they will use a random selection process for all the H-1B filings subject to the cap that were received on April 2 and April 3. Any petition received on those days but not chosen in the random selection process will be rejected and returned to the petitioner, along with the filing fee. In addition, any cap-subject petitions received on or after April 4, 2007 will be rejected. The earliest point that H-1B visas, subject to this cap, can be re-submitted will be April 1, 2008, when visas become available for Fiscal Year 2009.

As of end-of-day, Monday, USCIS received roughly 150,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions. The next step will be for USCIS to perform initial data entry of all those filings. Because of the amount of petitions received, we expect the random selection process will not begin for at least several weeks.

As of today, USCIS is not sure how many petitions were received for exemption H-1B visas, those 20,000 visas reserved for international petitioners with masters’ or higher degrees received in the U.S. USCIS will soon make an announcement regarding these petitions.

In addition, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed on behalf of H-1B workers that do not count toward the H-1B cap. These petitions include cases to extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the U.S.; change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers; allow current H-1B workers to change employers; or allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

USCIS also notes that any other H-1B cases that are exempted from the cap will not be affected by this announcement.

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Sat, 03 Mar 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Homeland Security Issues Proposal for States to Add Security http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/homeland_security_issues_proposal_for_states_to_add_security http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=602 Homeland Security Issues Proposal for States to Add Security to All Driver’s Licenses

 

Mar 2 2007

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposal to establish minimum standards for all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, per the requirements of the REAL ID Act of 2005. This act, which was based on recommendations made from the 9/11 Commission, aims to enhance the security and integrity of all driver’s licenses issued in the U.S.

“Raising the security standards on driver’s licenses establishes another layer of protection to prevent terrorists from obtaining and using fake documents to plan or carry out an attack. These standards correct glaring vulnerabilities exploited by some of the 9/11 hijackers who used fraudulently obtained drivers licenses to board the airplanes in their attack against America,” said Michael Chertoff, Secretary, DHS. “We will work closely with states to implement these standards and protect American’s privacy against identity theft and the use of fraudulent documents. We are also pleased to have been able to work with Senator Susan Collins, and I believe that the proposed regulations reflect her approach.”

DHS’s proposed regulations will set various standards that all states will need to meet. These regulations include: security features incorporated into each card; verification of information provided by applicants to ensure their identity and lawful status in the U.S.; and the provision for physical security standards for locations where licenses and identification cards are issued.

In the DHS proposal, a REAL ID driver’s license will be required for an individual to access a federal facility, board a federally-regulated commercial airplane or enter a nuclear power plant. Due to the fact that states might have difficulty reaching the May 11, 2008 deadline, DHS has granted an extension until December 31, 2009. States that receive this extension will, over the period of the extended time period, submit proposed timetables to reach compliance.

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Fri, 02 Mar 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Guidance for I-130 Petitioners Abroad http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_guidance_for_i-130_petitioners_abroad_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=603 USCIS Guidance for I-130 Petitioners Abroad

 

Mar 2 2007

USCIS has published a notice advising any persons who filed a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with an American embassy or consulate since July, 2006 that they do not need to re-file that petition. USCIS is currently working closely with the Department of State to process those petitions.

In January of this year, the Department of State announced that certain requirements related to the July 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act prohibited them from accepting new petitions. It is suggested that U.S. citizens who live abroad continue to file new petitions with a USCIS international office.

USCIS will issue instructions for new filings sometime after the details have been finalized with the Department of State.

Please note that all petitioners traveling abroad who live in the U.S. should file their I-130 petition with the appropriate USCIS service center in the U.S., as stated in the instructions on that petition form.

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Fri, 02 Mar 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Creates New Biometric Process for Conditional Permanen http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_creates_new_biometric_process_for_conditional_permanen http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=604 USCIS Creates New Biometric Process for Conditional Permanent Residents

 

Mar 1 2007

The USCIS has announced a new nationwide biometrics process for all conditional permanent residents who file the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, Form I-751. This new process became effective February 28, 2007.

Under the previous process for these applicants, after approval of Form I-751, applicants received an approval notice instructing them to appear at a USCIS district office for processing of their Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551. At that point, the approved applicant would manually submit passport-style photographs, index fingerprints and a signature on either Form I-89, I-551 or I-586 (the Card Data Collection Form) to create his or her permanent resident card.

Under the new process, all conditional permanent residents will be required to appear at a USCIS Application Support Center after filing Form I-751 to have their biometric identifiers electronically captured. An appointment with the Application Support Center will be automatically sent to these applicants with a specific date, time and location for the meeting. Capture of biometric identifiers will include the electronic capture of the applicant’s photograph, signature, index fingerprint and ten-print fingerprints. These electronic files will then be used to create the applicant’s permanent resident card, if the application is approved.

Please note that applicants will no longer be required to submit passport-style photographs; these photographs will be taken at the Application Support Center meeting.

All conditional permanent residents are required by USCIS to submit the standard base petition fee of $205 and the biometric service fee of $70. Please note that each conditional resident dependant that is eligible to be included on the main applicant’s Form I-751 will also need to submit an additional biometric services fee of $70.

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Thu, 01 Mar 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Bill Gates on Immigration Reform http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bill_gates_on_immigration_reform_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=605 Bill Gates on Immigration Reform

 

Feb 26 2007

In a column published in this Sunday’s Washington Post, Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation, called for reform in the nation’s employment-based immigration policies. "American competitiveness … requires immigration reforms that reflect the importance of highly skilled foreign-born employees,” said Gates. “Demand for specialized technical skills has long exceeded the supply of native-born workers with advanced degrees, and scientists and engineers from other countries fill this gap.”

In the guest column, Gates laid out a series of steps he believes is necessary for the United States to remain competitive in the global business and technology markets.

Loosen regulations that require nonimmigrant workers to remain in one job while they wait for their green card.
Allow U.S. companies to use the H-1B visa program to hire foreign-born scientists and engineers whenever they can not find American talent.
Encourage foreign students to remain in the U.S. after they complete their education.

 

“During the past 30 years,” said Gates, “U.S. innovation has been the catalyst for the digital information revolution. If the United States is to remain a global economic leader, we must foster an environment that enables a new generation to dream up innovations, regardless of where they were born.”

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Mon, 26 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
ETA Issues 2007 Minimum Wage Requirements for H-2A Agricultu http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/eta_issues_2007_minimum_wage_requirements_for_h-2a_agricultu http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=606 ETA Issues 2007 Minimum Wage Requirements for H-2A Agricultural Workers

 

Feb 22 2007

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA), yesterday, issued a notice announcing the 2007 minimum wage rates, the Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) for employers who wish to hire temporary or seasonal immigrant workers to conduct agricultural labor or services under the H-2A visa category or logging under the H-2 Logging Worker category. The AEWRs also provide allowable charges that employers may place upon their workers when they offer them three meals a day, along with the maximum travel subsistence reimbursement that a worker who provides receipts may claim in 2007.

The 2007 state AEWR rates are as follows:

Alabama -- 8.51

Arizona -- 8.27

Arkansas -- 8.01

California -- 9.20

Colorado -- 8.64

Connecticut -- 9.50

Delaware -- 9.29

Florida -- 8.56

Georgia -- 8.51

Hawaii -- 10.32

Idaho -- 8.76

Illinois -- 9.88

Indiana -- 9.88

Iowa -- 9.95

Kansas -- 9.55

Kentucky -- 8.65

Louisiana -- 8.01

Maine -- 9.50

Maryland -- 9.29

Massachusetts -- 9.50

Michigan -- 9.65

Minnesota -- 9.65

Mississippi -- 8.01

Missouri -- 9.95

Montana -- 8.76

Nebraska -- 9.55

Nevada -- 8.64

New Hampshire -- 9.50

New Jersey -- 9.29

New Mexico -- 8.27

New York -- 9.50

North Carolina -- 9.02

North Dakota -- 9.55

Ohio -- 9.88

Oklahoma -- 8.66

Oregon -- 9.77

Pennsylvania -- 9.29

Rhode Island -- 9.50

South Carolina -- 8.51

South Dakota -- 9.55

Tennessee -- 8.65

Texas -- 8.66

Utah -- 8.64

Vermont -- 9.50

Virginia -- 9.02

Washington -- 9.77

West Virginia -- 8.65

Wisconsin -- 9.65

Wyoming -- 8.76

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Thu, 22 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Releases New Form for Employment Authorization http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releases_new_form_for_employment_authorization_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=607 USCIS Releases New Form for Employment Authorization

 

Feb 21 2007

The USCIS recently revised Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization. The revised form includes means to obtain supplemental evidence from international physicians with National Interest Waivers. This new form also reduces the amount of options that applicants must fill.

In this revised form, NIW physicians must provide additional evidence to ensure that they are not simply using a pending adjustment of status application as the method to legally work in areas outside of medical services in underserved areas. While applications on previous Forms I-765 will not be accepted, USCIS will accept all of those forms as long as they were submitted prior to the date of release of this new form, February 21, 2007.

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Wed, 21 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Pilot Tests New Citizenship Test http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_pilot_tests_new_citizenship_test_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=608 USCIS Pilot Tests New Citizenship Test

 

Feb 16 2007

A new citizenship test, to be ready for mass release in 2008, was recently tested in a small population of immigrants. The new test, according to USCIS, is designed to make immigrants think more about American concepts, as opposed to just memorizing basic facts. Current pilot tests are taking place in ten cities and aim to expose the new test to up to 6,000 people. The pilot test includes reading and writing portions and is quite different from the current test. Currently, applicants are required to orally correctly answer six of ten questions, pulled from 140 possible questions.

"I want to make sure that people understand this is certainly not to make the test more difficult," said Maria Elena Garcia-Upson. "We just want to make sure that when they're giving the oath of allegiance, raising their right hand at the time of the ceremony, that they understand our process here in this country and what our forefathers stood for."

There is no penalty for failing the pilot test; those that do fail it may simply take the current, oral test instead. Cities currently involved in this pilot test include: San Antonia and El Paso, TX; Albany, NY; Boston, MA; Charleston, SC; Denver, CO; Kansas City, MO; Miami, FL; Tucson, AZ; and Yakima, WA.

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Fri, 16 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Informs Prospective Adoptive Parents of New Chinese Re http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_informs_prospective_adoptive_parents_of_new_chinese_re http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=609 USCIS Informs Prospective Adoptive Parents of New Chinese Regulations on Adoption

 

Feb 14 2007

In an effort to ensure that prospective adoptive parents understand new rules for intercountry adoptions from China that will be effective May 1, 2007, the USCIS has issued a memo of clarification.

These new rules, implemented by the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) will significantly impact and control the actions of parents interested in adopting a child from China. The new rules include requirements related to age, marital status, length of marriage, health status and financial status.

Because prospective parents who filed Form I-600A, the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, prior to the CCAA’s announcement on December 21, 2006, were unaware of these proposed changes, the USCIS will work hard to help these individuals out in the processing of their visa application.

In addition, USCIS offices will allow prospective adoptive parents to file a new Form I-600A, with the correct filing fee, if their current approval notice, on either Form I-171H or Form I-797C, expires prior to May 1, 2007. USCIS is dedicated to work toward expediting adjudication of all these relevant applications in order to meet China’s May 1 deadline.

Preliminary new rules have been provided by CCAA and are available online at the following url:

http://www.travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3110.html.

If you need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact your local USCIS office. Special adoptions email addresses have been created for each district office. Find these addresses at the following url:

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Wed, 14 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Contact Numbers for I-140 Premium Processing Service at http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_contact_numbers_for_i-140_premium_processing_service_at_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=610 New Contact Numbers for I-140 Premium Processing Service at Nebraska Service Center

 

Feb 13 2007

The Nebraska Service Center now has new telephone and fax numbers for the I-140 premium processing service. These numbers are as follows:

Phone: 866-315-5718

Fax: 402-323-2591

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Tue, 13 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
I-130 Petitions for Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas Shoul http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/i130_petitions_for_immediate_relative_immigrant_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=611 I-130 Petitions for Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas Should Be Filed with USCIS

 

Feb 12 2007

Recent immigration legislations have led to changes in the way that American citizens living abroad should follow if they choose to sponsor an immediate relative (e.g., spouse, parent, minor child) for an immigrant visa. As of early February 2007, petition I-130, the immediate relative petition, should be filed directly with the USCIS office that is responsible for the American citizen’s place of residence.

Consular offices abroad will no longer be accepting the I-130 petition; however, they will continue to guide American citizen petitioners and their family members in the processes of applying for immigrant status.

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Mon, 12 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Passes Amendment to Minimum Wage Bill Affecting Emplo http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_passes_amendment_to_minimum_wage_bill_affecting_emplo http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=612 Senate Passes Amendment to Minimum Wage Bill Affecting Employers of Undocumented Immigrants

 

Feb 5 2007

Last week, the Senate unanimously voted in favor of an amendment to the minimum wage bill that would, in effect, bar any company that employed undocumented immigrants from receiving a government contract for seven years. If that company held a government contract at the time of the offense, they would be banned from receiving government contracts for a ten-year period. This amendment, though, would exempt all employers who voluntarily participate in the Basic Pilot Program, an internet-based employee verification system (available online at: https://www.vis-dhs.com/EmployerRegistration/).

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Mon, 05 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Bush Voices Support for Increasing H-1B Quota http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bush_voices_support_for_increasing_h-1b_quota_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=613 Bush Voices Support for Increasing H-1B Quota

 

Feb 5 2007

President Bush, in late January, voiced his support for an increase in the H-1B visa quota and is urging Congress to take action toward an expansion of the current limiting quotas for this essential work visa. In a meeting with DuPont employees last week, Bush said, “I understand that we need to make sure that when a smart person from overseas wants to come and work in DuPont, it's in our interests to allow him or her to do so. We've got to expand what's called H1B visas.” Bush went on to say that he looks forward to working with Congress to enact this change.

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Mon, 05 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Proposes to Raise Citizenship Fee http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_proposes_to_raise_citizenship_fee_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=614 USCIS Proposes to Raise Citizenship Fee

 

Feb 2 2007

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed to increase immigration filing fees by roughly 66 percent, according to a public notice released by the federal organization. According to USCIS, “these fees are used to fund the full cost of processing immigration and naturalization benefit applications and petitions, biometric services, and associated support services.” The fees, according to USCIS, also help cover the costs of providing certain services to asylum and refugee applicants, along with other immigrants, who receive these services at no charge.

The fees for the immigration and naturalization benefit application and petition fee are scheduled to rise from an average fee of $264 to $438. In addition, fees for certain applications would be merged so that applicants would pay a single fee, as opposed to paying multiple fees for various services.

Over the past 12 years, there has been a fourfold increase in the cost of applying for citizenship to the United States. The proposed fee hike would make that a sevenfold increase. IN 1994, the cost to apply for citizenship to the United States was only $95; with the proposed fee, these costs would be $675.

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Fri, 02 Feb 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Filing Procedure Announced for Applications for Replacem http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_filing_procedure_announced_for_applications_for_replacem http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=615 New Filing Procedure Announced for Applications for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Documents

 

Jan 26 2007

USCIS has published a notice, informing applicants that it is expanding its Direct Mail Program. All filings of Form N-565, the Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, should now be filed at a designated Service Center for processing. Applicants, prior to this notice, were required to file this form at the USCIS field office with jurisdiction over the location of current residence. This new Direct Mail Program will, according to USCIS, provide for a more efficient processing of these applications. This new process will be implemented on February 26, 2007 and will affect all N-565 applications.

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Fri, 26 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
ACLU Calls for an End to Overcrowded Prisons for Immigration http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/aclu_calls_for_an_end_to_overcrowded_prisons_for_immigration http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=616 ACLU Calls for an End to Overcrowded Prisons for Immigration Detainees

 

Jan 24 2007

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today joined a lawsuit on behalf of immigration detainees being held at the San Diego Correctional facility. The lawsuit claims that overcrowding in this prison has placed these detainees’ health and safety at risk, a breach of constitutional measures.

“Immigration detainees are held under civil rather than criminal laws,” said Gouri Bhat, one of the ACLU lawyers representing the detainees. “Since they are detained for non-punitive purposes, immigration detainees are legally entitled to better living conditions than convicted prisoners or pre-trial detainees.”

This class action complaint filed by the ACLU, along with a San Diego based law firm, is the first of its kind to seek major improvements in the detainment environment of those held on immigration violations.

The complaint states that more than 650 detainees are being held three to a cell. This means that, in each cell, one detainee must sleep on a plastic slab on the floor, next to the toilet. Further, some detainees are being forced to sleep on bunk beds in the prison’s recreation area and certain housing units in the prison are more than fifty percent over-capacity.

The San Diego correctional facility is one of the largest immigration detention facilities in the country and holds roughly 1,000 detainees. The prison is managed by Corrections Corporation of America, Inc., the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S., who works under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

According to the ACLU complaint, this overcrowding has led to incidents of violence at the facility. Further, the situation of overcrowding has led to major delays in medical and mental health treatments, and infectious diseases are spreading at speedy rates, creating a public health disaster.

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Wed, 24 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Traveling Outside the United States as an Asylum Applicant, http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/traveling_outside_the_united_states_as_an_asylum_applicant%2C_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=617 Traveling Outside the United States as an Asylum Applicant, an Asylee, or a Lawful Permanent Resident Who Obtained Such Status Based on Asylum Status

 

Jan 23 2007

Source: USCIS

Asylum applicants, asylees, and lawful permanent residents who obtained such status based on their asylum status are subject to special rules with regard to traveling outside the United States. This U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fact Sheet describes the relevant statutes and regulations regarding traveling outside the United States as well as the consequences that could result if an asylum applicant, an asylee, or a lawful permanent resident who obtained such status based on his or her asylum status returns to his or her country of claimed persecution.

Travel Outside the United States

Asylum Applicants: An asylum applicant who leaves the United States without first obtaining advance parole shall be presumed to have abandoned his or her asylum application. Advance parole (see: USCIS Form I-131) allows certain aliens to return to the United States without a visa after traveling abroad. Asylum applicants must receive advance parole before leaving the United States. Advance parole does not guarantee that the alien will be paroled into the United States. Rather, the asylum applicant must still undergo inspection by an immigration inspector from United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Asylees: Asylees (individuals who have been granted asylum) may travel abroad with the prior approval of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Such prior approval comes in the form of a refugee travel document. A refugee travel document is valid for one year and is issued to an asylee to allow his or her return to the United States after temporary travel abroad. Generally, the asylee should obtain the refugee travel document prior to departure from the United States, though the applicable regulations also permit the issuance of a refugee travel document abroad under certain circumstances. Like advance parole, a refugee travel document does not guarantee admission into the United States. Rather, the asylee must still undergo inspection by an immigration inspector from CBP.

Lawful Permanent Residents: Lawful permanent residents who obtained such status based on their asylum status may also travel abroad with refugee travel documents.



Possible Consequences of Returning to the Country of Claimed Persecution

Section 208.8(b) of Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations provides that an asylum applicant who leaves the United States pursuant to advance parole and returns to the country of claimed persecution shall be presumed to have abandoned his or her asylum application, unless the applicant is able to establish compelling reasons for the return. Therefore, if an asylum applicant returns to his or her country of claimed persecution pursuant to advance parole, he or she should be prepared to explain the reason for the return.

Asylum status may be terminated for specific reasons as listed in INA § 208(c)(2). An individual’s underlying asylum status may be terminated even if the individual has already become a lawful permanent resident.

Returning to one’s country of claimed persecution may be relevant to a number of termination grounds. For instance, asylum status could be terminated based on a fundamental change in circumstances in the asylee’s country of persecution. Termination could also occur due to fraud in the asylum application such that the asylee was not eligible for asylum. Return to the country of feared persecution can, in some circumstances, be considered evidence that the asylee’s alleged fear of persecution is not genuine. In addition, termination of asylum status could occur if an “alien has voluntarily availed himself or herself of the protection of the alien’s country of nationality . . . by returning to such country with permanent resident status or the reasonable possibility of obtaining such status with the same rights and obligations pertaining to other permanent residents of that country.”

Accordingly, an asylee or a lawful permanent resident who obtained such status based on a grant of asylum status may be questioned about why he or she was able to return to the country of claimed persecution and, in some circumstances, may be subject to proceedings to terminate asylum status.

– USCIS –

On March 1, 2003, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services became one of three legacy INS components to join the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is charged with fundamentally transforming and improving the delivery of immigration and citizenship services, while enhancing the integrity of our nation's security.

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Tue, 23 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Plan Ahead for H-1B Visa Window of Opportunity http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/plan_ahead_for_h-1b_visa_window_of_opportunity_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=618 Plan Ahead for H-1B Visa Window of Opportunity

 

Jan 19 2007

H-1B visas, which will be available April 1, are expected to disappear within a very short amount of time. Currently, the demand for H-1B visas far outweigh the supply and it is expected that access to the H-1B visas will be quite limited this year.

It is critical that employers plan and prepare now for the upcoming window of opportunity. Find out which of your workers (current and pending) will be affected by the H-1B visa cap. Consider which potential international workers could come to the U.S. under alternate visa categories (TN, E-3, J-1, L-1, etc). Plan ahead; be prepared.

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Fri, 19 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Passports Required for Air Travel as of Jan. 23 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/passports_required_for_air_travel_as_of_jan._23_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=619 Passports Required for Air Travel as of Jan. 23

 

Jan 19 2007

The Departments of Homeland Security and State (DHS; DOS) published a reminder earlier this week that, as of January 23, 2007, all citizens of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Bermuda will be required to present a passport when entering the U.S. by air from any location in the Western Hemisphere. This new requirement, the Departments say, will affect roughly 88 percent of all travelers coming to the U.S. with passports.

Since November 2006, 83 percent of U.S. citizens, 94 percent of Canadians, 88 percent of Mexicans, and 99 percent of Bermudans have had passports when arriving at U.S. airports.

The Departments note that two alternative documents will be accepted at these air ports of entry: the Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) and the NEXUS Air card. The MMD, also known as the zcard, is issued to U.S. Merchant Mariners from the U.S. Coast Guard. The NEXUS Air card is issued to Canadian and U.S. citizens, and permanent residents of those two countries, who meet particular eligibility requirements. Please note that this card will only be accepted at airports participating in the NEXUS Air program. In addition, the MMD will only be accepted when the traveler is on official business with the Merchant Mariners.

Finally, all active members of the U.S. Armed Forces are exempted from this passport requirement. Legal permanent residents of the U.S. will be allowed to re-enter the U.S. by using their I-551 Permanent Resident Card.

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Fri, 19 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL Submits Proposed Amendment to Submission Processes for t http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_submits_proposed_amendment_to_submission_processes_for_t http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=620 DOL Submits Proposed Amendment to Submission Processes for the E-3 Visa

 

Jan 16 2007

The Department of Labor (DOL) has submitted a proposed amendment to regulations for nonimmigrant foreign professionals in the U.S. under the new E-3 temporary employment visa category. This new category was established in the REAL ID Act of 2005, a part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief. The act applies to certain Australian nationals coming to the U.S. to perform services in certain specialty occupations.

This proposed amendment would clarify the procedures employers should follow to obtain a DOL-certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) prior to seeking to employ a foreign worker under the E-3 visa category.

According to DOL, employers who wish to employ Australian professionals under this visa category should submit an LCA that includes information required under current H-1B and H-1B1 visa programs. The employer should attest to the following:

It will provide the nonimmigrant wages equal or more than either the actual wage level paid to other employees with similar experience and qualifications for the specific position, or the prevailing wage level for that occupation classification, whichever is greater;

The working conditions for the nonimmigrant will not adversely affect working conditions for other similarly employed individuals;

There is currently no strike or lockout due to a labor dispute in that occupational classification at the proposed worksite;

The employer has provided notice of this LCA to its employees’ bargaining representative for the particular occupational classification. If there is no bargaining representative, the employer must have provided notice via a physical posting (or other means) to its employees in that occupational classification;

As is the case for H-1B and H-1B1 visas, the DOL may choose to review the E-3 LCAs solely for completeness and inaccuracies. After this review is completed, USCIS and the Department of State will process the individual E-3 visa requests. Under this new process, E-3 visa applicants who are not currently in the U.S. should provide the necessary evidence for this classification directly to a Consular Officer when the visa application is submitted.

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Tue, 16 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Adds Online Change of Address Service to its Website http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_adds_online_change_of_address_service_to_its_website_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=621 USCIS Adds Online Change of Address Service to its Website

 

Jan 12 2007

Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a new web-based service that will allow applicants to submit their change of address information via the USCIS website. This new online service will streamline the process of providing updated contact information, which is legally required of all non-citizens in the U.S. Non-citizens must update USCIS of any change of address within ten days of their move by filling out Form AR-11, the Alien Change of Address Card. In addition, all immigrants with pending immigration cases must notify USCIS of any change in their address.

“Not only is this a terrific service for our customers, in the long run it is a great cost and time saver,” said Emilio Gonzalez, director, USCIS. “USCIS is continuing to retool the agency to get as much efficiency from automation as possible.”

Currently, USCIS processes over one million change of address requests each year. This new online service will reduce processing times and improve the service provided to applicants by USCIS. Applicants will receive immediate confirmation that they have successfully updated their address information.

Early testing of the new online change of address service was lauded by test users, who found the new form both convenient and simple to use. USCIS intends to broaden this service in May 2007 by also allowing applicants with pending naturalization applications to report changes of address online. Currently, however, those individuals should continue to contact USCIS by telephone to report any change of address (1-800-375-5283).

In order to use the new online change of address service, applicants should have the following information readily available:

USCIS receipt number, if you have a pending case;
New and old addresses;
Names and biographical information for family members for whom you have filed a petition; and
The date and location of your last entry into the U.S.

The change of address online service is available online at:

http://www.uscis.gov/AR-11.
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Fri, 12 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Need a Technology Overhaul, Say Immigration Officials http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_need_a_technology_overhaul%2C_say_immigration_officials_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=622 USCIS Need a Technology Overhaul, Say Immigration Officials

 

Jan 8 2007

Immigration officials recently reasserted that they do not have the technology and resources to handle the millions of yearly applications for legal residency in the U.S. According to officials, the U.S. must update its paper-based application process prior to any major immigration legislation overhaul, such as the proposed Guest Worker program.

According to a December 20 report, Richard L. Skinner, Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, cited an extensive list of setbacks in the department’s attempts to modernize their system. “[The Bureau] lacks the processing capacity, systems integration and project management resources needed to manage a potential increase in workloads,” said Skinner.

Legal immigrants currently in the system already face long waits for green cards. A hundred thousand names submitted to the FBI for required background checks, for example, have been on hold for more than a year. In addition, auditors report that, as of July 2006, immigration officials have misplaced 110,000 application files.

Jonathan Scharfen, Deputy Director for the USCIS, admits that there is much work that needs to be done. “We acknowledge that we still have a great deal to do,” said Scharfen. He went on to note that this re-engineering process is a high priority for the USCIS.

But the solution, according to immigration advocates, involves more than just placing a high priority on the issue. "Congress needs to step up and provide the funding to ensure that USCIS is able to build a functioning infrastructure, regardless of the fate of immigration reform," said Crystal Williams, Deputy Director of Programs for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

There is currently $47 million earmarked for this technology overhaul; however, the funds were withheld by Congress until they receive a final plan from Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

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Mon, 08 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Conservative Leaders Call for More Flexible Asylum Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/conservative_leaders_call_for_more_flexible_asylum_program_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=623 Conservative Leaders Call for More Flexible Asylum Program

 

Jan 8 2007

Conservative lawmakers and thought leaders who backed President Bush’s 2004 reelection are now speaking up with their liberal counterparts about the Bush administration’s use of anti-terrorism legislation to deny asylum to many immigrants rightfully seeking that status.

Many international asylum applicants, who in no way resemble terrorists, are being direly affected by the administration’s broad application of anti-terrorism legislation. Individuals such as Hmong refugees who fought with the U.S. in the Vietnam War, healthcare workers in Columbia and victims of rebel violence in Liberia are having their applications rejected on the grounds that they provided support to terrorists.

“[This] is causing heroes who fought for the United States to be afraid of being deported,” said Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute and lawyer for the former Reagan administration.

Gary Bauer, president of the conservative public policy group, American Values, agrees with Horowitz’s statement: “The enforcement of it has lapsed into ludicrousy,” says Bauer. “The concept of material support is being distorted, and even the definition of the term 'terrorism' is being turned on its ear."

In 2000, 72,000 asylum seekers were allowed into the U.S. That number has since drastically dropped. In 2003, for example, a mere 28,000 refugee applicants were allowed into the U.S.; last year, only 25,257 applicants were granted asylum.

Over the past two years, say critics of the administration’s actions, the Department of Homeland Security has refused a range of requests to create more flexible waivers for individuals such as Hmong and Montagnards who fought with the U.S. in the Vietnam War. The solution to this problem, say these critics, is working with the new Democratic majority.

"The key to ending these policies is in the hands of the new Democratic majority" said Horowitz. "I do not believe this is a sustainable policy."

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Mon, 08 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Immigrants Leading Entrepreneurship in the U.S., Says Duke U http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/immigrants_leading_entrepreneurship_in_the_u.s.%2C_says_duke_u http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=624 Immigrants Leading Entrepreneurship in the U.S., Says Duke University Report

 

Jan 5 2007

A report by a team of student researchers at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University details the impact of globalization on the U.S. economy and, specifically, the profession of engineering. The report highlights the role skilled immigrants play in leading innovation and creating jobs and wealth in the engineering/technology sector.

Highlights of the Duke report include the following information about engineering and technology companies started in the U.S from 1995 to 2005:

At least one key founder in one quarter of all these companies was foreign born. States with the highest rate of foreign-born founders include California, New Jersey and Georgia. States with below average rates include Washington, North Carolina and Ohio.
These companies, formed by immigrants, produced $52 billion in sales; 450,000 employees worked for these companies in 2005.
More engineering/technology companies in the U.S. were founded by Indians than British, Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese immigrants combined.
Immigrant businesspersons vary by region. In Florida, the majority of immigrant-founded companies were formed by Hispanics; Israelis founded more companies in Massachusetts than any other immigrant group; in New Jersey, 47% of all immigrant-founded engineering/technology companies were started by Indians.
Nearly 80% of all immigrant-founded companies in the U.S. were either software companies or innovation/manufacturing-related services.
Foreign nationals living in the U.S. were named as the inventors or co-inventors in 24.2% of all international patent applications filed by the U.S. in 2006. This number does not include immigrants who have since become U.S. citizens. This number rose dramatically over the past decade. In 1998, non-citizen immigrants contributed to only 7.3% of all international patent applications filed by the U.S.

View the full report > America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs
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Fri, 05 Jan 2007 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Fact Sheet for Asylum Applicants and Asylees Traveling http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_fact_sheet_for_asylum_applicants_and_asylees_traveling http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=625 USCIS Fact Sheet for Asylum Applicants and Asylees Traveling Abroad

 

Dec 29 2006

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published a fact sheet regarding traveling outside the United States for asylum applicants, asylees and lawful permanent residents who obtained that status based on asylum status.

1) Asylum applicants: Asylum applicants who leave the U.S. without first obtaining advance parole via Form I-131 will be presumed by USCIS to have abandoned their asylum application. Please not that advance parole will not guarantee that the applicant will be able to return to the U.S. The applicant will still be required to undergo inspection by a USCIS immigration inspector.

2) Asylees: Asylees, those that have been granted asylum in the U.S., can travel abroad after receiving approval from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security via a refugee travel document. These documents are valid for one-year periods and are issued to asylees so that they may return to the U.S. after temporarily traveling abroad. It is suggested by USCIS that asylees obtain the refugee travel document before leaving the U.S.; however, in certain cases, this document may be issued abroad. Again, please note that the refugee travel document does not assure re-entry into the U.S. Asylees will also be required to undergo inspection by a USCIS immigration inspector.

3) Lawful Permanent Residents: Lawful permanent residents who obtained their immigration status based on their asylum status are allowed to travel abroad with refugee travel documents. Please see the above description (Asylee) for more information about international travel.

PLEASE NOTE: Asylum applicants who leave the U.S. without advance parole and return to the nation where they claimed to have been persecuted will be presumed by USCIS to have abandoned their asylum application, unless the applicant has a viable reason for that return visit.

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Fri, 29 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
All Federal Offices Will Be Closed January 2 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/all_federal_offices_will_be_closed_january_2_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=626 All Federal Offices Will Be Closed January 2

 

Dec 29 2006

All Federal Government offices, including all immigration offices, will be closed on Tuesday, January 2, 2007 in respect of former President, Gerald Ford, who passed away earlier this week. Please note this official closing and amend your plans accordingly.

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Fri, 29 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Democratic Lawmakers Gearing up for Major Immigration Reform http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/democratic_lawmakers_gearing_up_for_major_immigration_reform http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=627 Democratic Lawmakers Gearing up for Major Immigration Reform

 

Dec 28 2006

Democratic lawmakers and their Republican supporters in the Senate are gearing up to work on a range of immigration reforms that would provide millions of illegal immigrants with a more direct path to citizenship than provided in a Senate bill passed this spring.

The revised legislation would not include the requirement in the previous Senate bill that required many of the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. to leave the country before being eligible for citizenship. In addition, they may revoke the funding for the proposed 700 miles of fencing to be placed along the border with Mexico, as funded by a bill passed into law earlier this year.

“I’m very hopeful about this, both in terms of the substance and the politics of it,” said Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the incoming chairman of the Senate Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee.

The proposed legislation would enable 10 to 11 million illegal immigrants to be eligible for citizenship without being required to return home. These immigrants would, however, be required to remain employed, pass background checks, pay fines and back taxes and enroll in English classes.

“There are going to be hard choices that are going to be made, because we need to build a bipartisan, broad-based coalition,” said Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), head of the House Democratic immigration group. “But I’m hopeful that in the environment in which we’re working now we can get it done.”

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Thu, 28 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Tom Ridge and Travel Industry Lobbying Group to Propose Immi http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/tom_ridge_and_travel_industry_lobbying_group_to_propose_immi http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=628 Tom Ridge and Travel Industry Lobbying Group to Propose Immigration Reform Package

 

Dec 24 2006

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has collaborated with a travel industry lobbying group to prepare a package of immigration reforms that would make it easier for international travelers to visit the United States.

The proposed immigration reform package would have a two-fold effect: first, it would change U.S. visa processes and procedures at points of entry; second, it would call for a major public relations campaign to promote these changes.

According to a statement from the lobbying group, Discover America Partnership, Ridge will “evaluate the U.S. entry process and propose strategies for striking a better balance between secure borders and open doors.”

These changes, according to Geoff Freeman, executive director of the Discover America Partnership, are needed to counter a crisis in the perceptions global travelers have about visiting the U.S.

In a recent survey of international travelers from 16 countries throughout the world, the U.S. ranked the worst destination by 39 percent of participants for ability to obtain necessary documents or visas and disrespectful immigration officials.

"We will be working with Gov. Ridge to develop a package of big and bold ideas," said Freeman. “There are a lot of different ideas out there.”

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Sun, 24 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Revision to Location to File Certain Application http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_revision_to_location_to_file_certain_application http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=629 USCIS Posts Revision to Location to File Certain Applications for Naturalization

 

Dec 24 2006

USCIS has revised its Direct Mail Program; now, certain filings of Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, should be fined at a designated lockbox facility, as opposed to a USCIS Service Center. In addition, spouses of current members of the U.S. Armed forces should now file their Application for Naturalization at the Nebraska Service center, regardless of whether you are filing from within or outside the U.S.

Please note that USCIS' notice does not change the filing location for Applications for Naturalizations filed by members and some veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who are eligible to apply for naturalization based on their military service. Those individuals should continue to file their Applications for Naturalization at the Nebraska Service Center, regardless of their location. This notice will become effective January 22, 2009.

If you reside in the following states or regions:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Territory of Guam and the Northern Marina Islands

You should mail your application to:

USCIS Lockbox Facility
USCIS
PO Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ

If you are using courier or express mail deliveries, you should mail your application to:

USCIS
Attn: N400
1820 Skyharbor Circle S, Floor 1
Phoenix, AZ 85034

If you reside in the following states or regions:

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands

You should mail your application to:

USCIS Lockbox Facility
USCIS
PO Box 299026
Lewisville, TX 75029

If you are using courier or express mail deliveries, you should mail your application to:

USCIS
Attn: N400
2501 S State Hwy 121, Bldg #4
Lewisville, TX 75067

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Sun, 24 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Notice on 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/notice_on_2008_diversity_visa_lottery_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=630 Notice on 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery

 

Dec 18 2006

The Department of State (DOS), this week, released an information sheet regarding the 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery. According to DOS, over 6.4 million entries were received during the two-month electronic registration period, an increase from the 5.5 million applications received last year. When taking into account all dependants of applicants, there have been a total of 10 million participants for the 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery.

The majority of the applicants, according to DOS, were from Africa and Asia: 41% of applications were received from Africa, 38% from Asia, 19% from Europe, and 2% from South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. More than 1.7 million applicants came from Bangladesh, the nation with the most lottery applications submitted. Nigerians submitted almost 700,000 applications and Ukrainians submitted just over 600,000 applications.

DOS comments that all winners of the lottery will be notified by a letter mailed from the Kentucky Consular Center confirming the name, date of birth, and country of chargeability for the applicant, along with a time/date stamp when the entries were registered. These notifications will be sent to winning applicants between April and July 2007. The letters will provide further instructions, including information on immigration fees.

Please note that there are companies attempting to defraud Diversity Visa Lottery applicants. Only letters from the DOS’s Kentucky Consular Center are considered valid. DOS notes that no other organization has been authorized to contact winning entrants. Please be cautious with these fraudulent companies.

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Mon, 18 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
NEXUS Program Expanded to Certain Land, Air and Sea Points o http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nexus_program_expanded_to_certain_land%2C_air_and_sea_points_o http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=631 NEXUS Program Expanded to Certain Land, Air and Sea Points of Entry

 

Dec 15 2006

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced yesterday that NEXUS trusted traveler-crossing privileges have now been expanded to all land, air and sea points of entry where NEXUS locations are currently in place. NEXUS also intends to provide processing locations at a range of additional airports in Canada throughout the coming year.

NEXUS is a program maintained in collaboration with the Canada Border Services Agency that allows speedier processing at specific highway lanes in high-volume border crossing locations for pre-screened and approved travelers. In addition, there is a NEXUS kiosk at Vancouver International Airport, and at specific marine reporting locations in the Great Lakes and Seattle regions.

The NEXUS program “is a true success story and demonstrates the strength of our relationship with Canada,” said W. Ralph Basham, CBP Commissioner. “Since it’s inception in 2002, NEXUS has grown to over 110,000 members, a tribute to the benefits that this program offers. I appreciate that NEXUS improves security while encouraging and facilitating cross-border travel and commerce between our two countries.”

Membership with the NEXUS program fulfills all travel document requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which, as of January 23, 2007, will require a passport or other secure travel document by all U.S. and Canadian citizens who wish to enter or re-enter the U.S. by air. It is expected that NEXUS membership will also be an acceptable program for land and sea travel.

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Fri, 15 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Congress Adjourns for 2006, No Immigration Reform http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/congress_adjourns_for_2006%2C_no_immigration_reform_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=632 Congress Adjourns for 2006, No Immigration Reform

 

Dec 11 2006

Even though there were numerous efforts by businesses and pro-immigration advocates, legislators and lobbying groups, the Congress adjourned this past Saturday without providing any relief from the highly restrictive H-1B Visa Cap and Employment-Based Green Card backlogs.

However, it is important to note that Congress’s hesitancy to take action may not be due to their unwillingness to enact reform, but instead may be due to the fact that we are currently in a lame duck session of Congress. We hope to see real reform happen early next year when Congress reconvenes.

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Mon, 11 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Congress Approves Act That Expands the P-1 Visa for Professi http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/congress_approves_act_that_expands_the_p-1_visa_for_professi http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=633 Congress Approves Act That Expands the P-1 Visa for Professional Athletes

 

Dec 9 2006

Congress today passed the Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professionals, Entertainers, and Teams through Legal Entry (COMPETE) Act of 2006, which had been approved by the Senate on December 6. This bill will expand the P-1 Nonimmigrant Visa to include additional categories of athletes wishing to perform or compete in the United States.

The Act will now include the following categories of potential international visitors:

(1) professional athletes;
(2) athletes, coaches or parts of professional teams that are located in the U.S.; these individuals must also be members of certain amateur foreign leagues or associations from which a significant amount of athletes are drafted by major league sports teams or their minor league affiliates; and (3) professional or amateur athletes who perform individually or as part of a group in theatrical ice skating productions that are coming to the U.S. as part of specific ice skating productions or tours.

Prior to the approval of this revised act, P-1 Visas were only limited to athletes who performed at an internationally recognized level of performance. The new revision will open access to a number of professional athletes and their coaches and will provide a more accessible environment for international competition.

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Sat, 09 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Approves Extension of Physicians for Underserved Area http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_approves_extension_of_physicians_for_underserved_area http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=634 Senate Approves Extension of Physicians for Underserved Areas Act

 

Dec 9 2006

The Senate today passed the Physicians for Underserved Areas Act by a voice vote, three days after the bill was passed, also by a voice vote, by Congress. This bill, which must now be signed into law by the President for it to become active, would extend for two years the visa waiver program that allows foreign doctors who work in underserved areas to remain in the U.S. after completing their medical training.

Traditionally, individuals who come to the U.S. for graduate or medical education under the J-1 Visa category are required to leave the U.S. for two years before being allowed to apply to return. However, a law passed in 1994 allowed a waiver of this requirement for foreign doctors who agreed to spend at least three years working with patients in medically underserved areas (e.g.: the Appalachian mountain region). This program’s authorization expired on June 1, 2006. Once signed into law by the President, this bill will be reinstated for a period of two years.

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Sat, 09 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Supreme Court Rules that State Felong Drug Posession Convict http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/supreme_court_rules_that_state_felong_drug_posession_convict http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=635 Supreme Court Rules that State Felong Drug Posession Convictions are Not Aggravated Felonies

 

Dec 6 2006

Yesterday, the Supreme Court, in an 8 to 1 decision, ruled that drug possession convictions that are considered state felonies, but not federal felonies, are not considered “aggravated felonies” as defined in immigration regulations. According to the Court: “Unless a state offense is punishable as a federal felony it does not count.”

 

 

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Wed, 06 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Works to Strengthen Security Measures for VWP Travelers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_works_to_strengthen_security_measures_for_vwp_travelers_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=636 DHS Works to Strengthen Security Measures for VWP Travelers

 

Dec 5 2006

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it intends to work with Congress to reform the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to ensure that the program is secure and to better facilitate international inclusion in the program. The DHS has proposed a number of security measures that will be requested from all VWP participants:

1. Electronic travel authorizations. The U.S. will develop an Electronic Travel Authorization Program for VWP participants that will give information on their travels to the U.S. in advance of their visit. The U.S. will then provide the travelers with electronic authorization to travel to the U.S.

2. Passenger information exchange. The U.S. will, as a standard, request assistance from the country where the travelers live in obtaining information about the traveler.

3. Reporting lost and stolen passports. The U.S. will ask participating VWP nations to report lost and stolen passports to the U.S. as soon as possible.

4. Repatriation of removed aliens. The U.S. is also asking that, when illegal immigrants are found in the United States, the home country should agree to accept them for repatriation. If that country refuses or neglects to repatriate their citizen, the U.S. would be forced to allow that illegal alien to remain in this country. VWP countries should agree to accept their citizens promptly when those citizens are caught violating U.S. law.

The DHS will also ask for the following additional security measures:

5. Common standards for travel documents. While participating VWP nations have been extremely helpful in strengthening their travel documentation (including making them machine-readable, including biometric information and containing digitally embedded photographs), more work, according to the DHS, needs to be done. DHS suggests that these participating nations further strengthen the security of their documentation through measures such as the following: central issuance authorities, standards for emergency passports, special markings for replacement passports, measures to identify travelers with two or more passports, and expedited issuance of the new biometric electronic passports.

6. Air marshals. The U.S. will ask all participating VWP nations to cooperate in the U.S. Air Marshal program, which allows U.S. Federal Air Marshals to operate onboard international flights to and from the U.S.

7. Airport security. VWP countries will be encouraged to meet superior standards of airport security, especially in screening checked baggage.

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Tue, 05 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Bush Reaches out to Leading Democrats to Support ‘Guest Wo http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bush_reaches_out_to_leading_democrats_to_support_%E2%80%98guest_wo http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=637 Bush Reaches out to Leading Democrats to Support ‘Guest Worker’ Program

 

Dec 1 2006

The White House is starting the process of reaching out to Congressional Democrats in an attempt to build up bipartisan support for the “Guest Worker” program, an immigration reform program that would provide a path to legal immigration status for a majority of the nation’s undocumented immigrants.

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who will be the chairman of the subcommittee on immigration issues, has voiced that the situation for this type of immigration reform is positively predisposed: “The dynamics are right," said Kennedy. "With a new Congress, we have an opportunity to pass our plan to secure our borders, uphold our laws, and strengthen our economy."

Kennedy and other senators, Democrats and Republicans, are planning a meeting this week, in which they hope to hash out a plan to implement immigration reform in 2007, good news for the many businesses and individuals desperately in need of a revised approach to immigration in the United States.

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Fri, 01 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Survey Finds that Many International Travelers Consider U.S. http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/survey_finds_that_many_international_travelers_consider_u.s. http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=638 Survey Finds that Many International Travelers Consider U.S. Immigration Process the World's Worst

 

Dec 1 2006

According to a recent survey conducted by Expo Magazine, international travelers consider the process to enter the U.S. the “world’s worst.” According to the survey, which was sponsored by the Discover America Partnership there has been a “17 percent decline in overseas travel to the United States over the past five years and [a] 10 percent decline in business travel to the United States over the past year.”

The survey also found that 54 percent of international travelers believe American immigration officials are ‘rude’ and roughly two-thirds of these travelers believe they could be detained at the U.S. border due to a simple mistake or misstatement on their part.

“Foreign travelers are in agreement: The U.S. entry process is unpredictable and unfriendly to foreign visitors,” said Thomas Riehle, a partner with RT Strategies, the company that conducted the survey. “It's hurting America's image abroad and deterring many from visiting the United States.”

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Fri, 01 Dec 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Testing Revised Citizenship Test http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_testing_revised_citizenship_test_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=639 USCIS Testing Revised Citizenship Test

 

Nov 30 2006

The Federal Government has revised their citizenship exam to make it more meaningful, say representatives of the U.S. government. The new exam will focus less on trivia such as the name of the president’s house and more on concrete aspects of American democracy. This new exam will be pilot tested in volunteers in various cities in the U.S. this winter.

"The idea is not to toss up roadblocks, it's to make sure people who apply for citizenship and want to become citizens understand and adhere to the values we have as a society, the values that are part of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights," said Shawn Saucier, a spokesman for the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

During this pilot process, USCIS officials hope to work out any problems with the revised test and conduct a variety of quality assurance tests. USCIS plans to use the finalized, new citizenship test in early 2008.

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Thu, 30 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Passports Will Soon be Required to Enter the U.S. Via Air http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/passports_will_soon_be_required_to_enter_the_u.s._via_air_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=640 Passports Will Soon be Required to Enter the U.S. Via Air

 

Nov 28 2006

The Departments of State and Homeland Security announced last week that all citizens of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Bermuda will be required to show a passport when entering the U.S. by air from any part of the Western Hemisphere, as of January 23, 2007. This change in procedure is part of a series of changes resulting from recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The new travel document requirements are part of the two departments’ Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

The plan will be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, all citizens of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Bermuda will need to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the traveler’s identity and nationality to either enter or re-enter the U.S. from within the Western Hemisphere.

The second phase, which will be published in a separate proposed rule will affect all travelers entering the U.S. via land and sea border crossings. Current discussions support the idea that all U.S. citizens traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean or Bermuda may be required to show a U.S. passport or other document approved by the Department of Homeland Security that establishes the traveler’s identity prior to entering or re-entering the U.S.

We will let you know more about these two phases as they are published.

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Tue, 28 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
More than 900 Companies Submit Letter for Reasonable Solutio http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/more_than_900_companies_submit_letter_for_reasonable_solutio http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=641 More than 900 Companies Submit Letter for Reasonable Solution to Immigration Problems

 

Nov 27 2006

The American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA), a strong supporter of immigration rights, has been working diligently on behalf of legal immigrants and their lawyers to lobby on behalf of much needed immigration changes for years. The most recent effort by AILA is a letter, signed by more than 900 U.S. companies negatively affected by current H-1B and employment-based immigration visa caps. This letter asks for changes to immigration legislations to provide them with access and ability to bring to the U.S. international workers in various capacities. We are excited by the communal support for change by these many businesses. Hopefully, with the change in power in the Congress and Senate, we will soon see immigration relief legislation enacted.

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Mon, 27 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS to Transfer Form I-129F for K-3 Spouses of U.S. Citize http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_transfer_form_i-129f_for_k-3_spouses_of_u.s._citize http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=642 USCIS to Transfer Form I-129F for K-3 Spouses of U.S. Citizens to Two Centralized Locations

 

Nov 16 2006

In late October (Oct. 23), the USCIS’s National Benefits Center (BNC) began transferring the Petition for Alien Fiance(e), Form I129F, the petition for K-3 spouses of US. Citizens, to the California and Vermont Service center locations. The location for these forms was based on the location of the related Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This transfer is directly related to USCIS’s ongoing initiative to use a centralized filing and bi-specialized adjudication system.

USCIS will continue to forward approved Form I-129F (K-3 visa) petitions to the National Visa Center for consular processing. It will, however, keep approved Form I-130 petitions for retrieval when a beneficiary applies for an adjustment of status, except in cases where the petitioner clearly states on Form I-130, that the beneficiary will use the consular process.

USCIS rationalizes this process because most K-3 beneficiaries apply for permanent residency by filing the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485, after their arrival in the U.S. Rarely do they use their approved Form I-130 petition to apply for an immigrant visa abroad. By retaining this form, USCIS will minimize the unnecessary movement of flies.

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Thu, 16 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Coast Guard Collecting Biomarkers and Digital Photographs in http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/coast_guard_collecting_biomarkers_and_digital_photographs_in http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=643 Coast Guard Collecting Biomarkers and Digital Photographs in the Mona Passage

 

Nov 14 2006

On November 13, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) started a pilot program that will collect biometric information from illegal migrants who were attempting to enter the U.S. through the waters between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico (the Mona Passage).

As part of the pilot program, the Coast Guard will compare digital fingerprints and photographs of these illegal migrants against data in the US-VISIT database. This database includes information about wanted criminals, immigrant violators and individuals who have had previous encounters with government.

“The Coast Guard's role in maritime border security is to support the national policy of orderly, safe and legal migration while ensuring safety of life at sea,” says Admiral Thad Allen, commandant, Coast Guard. “Since 9/11, it has become increasingly important to know who is attempting to gain access to the United States, and this project gives us the means to positively identify and take appropriate actions regarding individuals intercepted at sea.”

Robert Mocny, acting director, US-VISIT program, says: “Biometrics make it virtually impossible to use forged documents or claim a fraudulent identity …. The Coast Guard’s comparison of biometrics collected at sea to those collected through the US-VISIT program will greatly enhance our ability to intercept those who pose a threat to national security.”

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Tue, 14 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Has Reached FY 2007 Cap for Special Immigrant Translat http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_has_reached_fy_2007_cap_for_special_immigrant_translat http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=644 USCIS Has Reached FY 2007 Cap for Special Immigrant Translators

 

Nov 13 2006

The USCIS announced late last week that it has received enough petitions requesting special immigrant status form Afghani and Iraqi translators to meet it’s FY 2006 visa cap. The program allows for the immigration of up to 50 Afghani and Iraqi nationals per year who have worked directly with the U.S. Military as translators.

The USCIS will continue to accept new filings until November 17. All new filings submitted after that day will be returned to the submitter. Petitions received before this cut-off date will be processed for the next available visa cycle.

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Mon, 13 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Change in Visa Fees for Indian Nonimmigrants http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/change_in_visa_fees_for_indian_nonimmigrants_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=645 Change in Visa Fees for Indian Nonimmigrants

 

Nov 10 2006

Please note that the USCIS has increased U.S. Visa Fees. Effective November 8, 2006, Indian applicants for nonimmigrant visas will no longer be required to pay the Visa Issuance Fee of $50 (US). These applicants, however, will be required to pay the Visa Application Fee of $100 (US), the VFS Service Charge and the $500 (US) Fraud Fee for Blanket L Visa Applications.

Please also note that, as of November 13, 2006, all U.S. Consular offices in India will adjust their consular exchange rate form 48 Rs./dollar to 46 Rs/dollar.

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Fri, 10 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Democrats Take House, Senate. Good News for Immigration Refo http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/democrats_take_house%2C_senate._good_news_for_immigration_refo http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=646 Democrats Take House, Senate. Good News for Immigration Reform

 

Nov 10 2006

The Democrats have taken control of both the House and the Senate in November’s Mid-Term Election. This change in leadership will have a wide range of meaning for many issues facing the country. Immigration reform, specifically, will become a hot topic in the coming months. Both President Bush and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who will be the new Speaker of the House in January, agree that positive changes in immigration policies are imminent.

There is a good chance that Congress will be able to pass comprehensive immigration reform, President Bush said. “[It is] an issue where I believe we can find some common ground with the Democrats.”

In the past year, we have seen a staunchly conservative, Republican-controlled House refuse to provide supportive immigration legislation; instead, a majority of laws passed in 2006 have focused on making legal immigration more difficult and ostracizing the large, international population interested in viable, effective immigration policies. The recent election, though, will assuredly provide good news for potential immigrants and U.S. businesses that desperately need changes in immigration policy that support their need to recruit international workers.

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Fri, 10 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CSC No Longer to Fax Approval Notices for Premium Processing http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/csc_no_longer_to_fax_approval_notices_for_premium_processing http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=647 CSC No Longer to Fax Approval Notices for Premium Processing Cases

 

Nov 7 2006

As of December 1, 2006, the California Service Center (CSC) will not fax approval notices for premium processing cases. Because there has been a major increase in receipts and time allotted to faxing copies of these notices, the CSC will be eliminating this step in the process. According to the CSC, “This change in process will increase efficiency and allow our customers to receive notices in a more timely manner.” The CSC will, however, continue to fax requests for evidence related to premium processing cases.

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Tue, 07 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Indian Consular Exchange Rate Has Changed http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/indian_consular_exchange_rate_has_changed_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=648 Indian Consular Exchange Rate Has Changed

 

Nov 7 2006

According to the American Consulate General in Chennai, the consular exchange rate has been revised. As of November 13, 2006, the fee amounts for application and other fees are as follows:

NIV application fee: Rs. 4,600
Visa issuance fee: Rs. 2,300
Fraud Prevention Fee (Blanket L1): Rs. 23,000

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Tue, 07 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
President Bush Remarks on the Secure Fence Act of 2006 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/president_bush_remarks_on_the_secure_fence_act_of_2006_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=649 President Bush Remarks on the Secure Fence Act of 2006

 

Nov 2 2006

On October 26, the White House released the President’s remarks on the Secure Fence Act of 2006. This controversial piece of legislation calls for the building of 700 miles of security fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. In his speech, President Bush defended the purpose of building the Security Fence and reaffirmed his support for a larger, more encompassing temporary worker program. The following is an excerpt from President Bush’s remarks:

“Ours is a nation of immigrants. We're also a nation of law. Unfortunately, the United States has not been in complete control of its borders for decades and, therefore, illegal immigration has been on the rise. We have a responsibility to address these challenges. We have a responsibility to enforce our laws. We have a responsibility to secure our borders. We take this responsibility seriously.

“Earlier this year, I addressed the nation from the Oval Office. I laid out our strategy for immigration reform. Part of that strategy begins with securing the border. Since I took office we have more than doubled funding for border security -- from $4.6 billion in 2001 to $10.4 billion this year. We've increased the number of Border Patrol agents from about 9,000 to more than 12,000, and by the end of 2008, we will have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents during my presidency.

“We've deployed thousands of National Guard members to assist the Border Patrol. We've upgraded technology at our borders. We've added infrastructure, including new fencing and vehicle barriers. We're adding thousands of new beds in our detention facilities so we can continue working to end catch and release at our southern border. During the course of my administration we have apprehended and sent home more 6 million people entering our country illegally. And I thank the Border Patrol for their hard work.

“The Secure Fence Act builds on this progress. The bill authorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our southern border. The bill authorizes more vehicle barriers, checkpoints and lighting to help prevent people from entering our country illegally. The bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to increase the use of advanced technology, like cameras and satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce our infrastructure at the border. We're modernizing the southern border of the United States so we can assure the American people we're doing our job of securing the border. By making wise use of physical barriers and deploying 21st century technology we're helping our Border Patrol agents do their job.

“The Secure Fence Act is part of our efforts to reform our immigration system. We have more to do. Meaningful immigration reforms means that we must enforce our immigration laws in the United States. It is against the law to hire someone who is here illegally. We fully understand that most businesses want to obey that law, but they cannot verify the legal status of their employees because of widespread document fraud. So we're creating a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility, and in the meantime, holding people to account for breaking the law.

“We must reduce pressure on our border by creating a temporary worker plan. Willing workers ought to be matched with willing employers to do jobs Americans are not doing for a temporary -- on a temporary basis.

“We must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship; that is amnesty. I oppose amnesty. There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic pass to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation. And I look forward to working with Congress to find that middle ground.”

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Thu, 02 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Extends Exchange Visitor Program for Professors and Rese http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_extends_exchange_visitor_program_for_pro http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=650 Department of State Extends Exchange Visitor Program for Professors and Researchers

 

Nov 1 2006

There’s good news for international professors and researchers working in the United States. The Department of State has amended its regulations, extending the program duration for professors and researchers participating in the Exchange Visitor Program. As of November 4, current and future professor and research program participants will be eligible to participate in the Exchange Visitor Program for up to five years. These participants, however, must meet all eligibility requirements for repeat participation in the program.

This final rule, which was published in mid-May of last year, also established a new administrative classification for some program sponsors – the G-7 category. Those sponsors that are eligible for this classification will be contacted by the Department of State; there is no need for potential sponsors to contact the Department.

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Wed, 01 Nov 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
24 of 27 VWP Countries Have Initiated E-Passports http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/24_of_27_vwp_countries_have_initiated_e-passports_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=651 24 of 27 VWP Countries Have Initiated E-Passports

 

Oct 28 2006

The Department of Homeland security announced late last week that nearly all of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries have met the requirement for issuing e-Passports. Currently, 24 of the 27 participation countries have met the United States’ deadline that requires all newly issued passports to include a contactless biochip with the passport holder’s biographic information, along with a biometric identifier.

"The department is committed to shutting down the ability of terrorists and criminals to use false travel documents to move freely through our borders,” said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. “The upgrade to e-Passports is a significant advance in preventing terrorists from using lost or stolen passports to obtain entry into the United States.”

In July of last year, the DHS announced the new requirement for these e-Passports for all VWP countries, with a deadline of October 26, 2006 for implementation. The three countries that have not yet implemented these updated passports are Andorra, Brunei and Liechtenstein. The U.S. is working closely with these countries to ensure that they meet this requirement as soon as possible. Currently, all travelers from these three countries will need to obtain a visa to enter the United States if they hold a passport that was issued on or after October 26, 2006, until e-Passports are made available.

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Sat, 28 Oct 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Bush Signs the Secure Fence Act into Law http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bush_signs_the_secure_fence_act_into_law_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=652 Bush Signs the Secure Fence Act into Law

 

Oct 26 2006

This morning, President Bush signed into law the Secure Fence Act of 2006. This act authorizes the erection of 700 miles of fencing along the southwest border of the U.S. The Secure Fence Act is one of many propositions supported by pro-security groups in the House and Senate.

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Thu, 26 Oct 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces a Change in Filing Procedures for Form 1-539 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_a_change_in_filing_procedures_for_form_1-539 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=653 USCIS Announces a Change in Filing Procedures for Form 1-539

 

Oct 25 2006

As of October 30, all local USCIS offices will begin forwarding any new filings for Form I-539, the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, for F-1 and M-1 student reinstatement to either the California or Vermont Service Center. This streamlining process is part of USCIS’s initiative to enact centralized filing and bi-specialized adjudication.

The California Service Center will receive all applications from offices located in the following states: AK, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OH, OR, SD, UT, WA, WI, and WY.

The Vermont Service Center will receive all applications from offices located in the following states: AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MS, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, SC, OK, PA, PR, RI, TN, TX, VA, VI, VT, and WV.

All applicants seeking student reinstatement will receive a receipt notice from the service center charged with processing their case. District offices of the USCIS will continue to process student reinstatement cases received before October 30 using current procedures. In addition, local USCIS offices will continue to accept Form I-539 until provisions are in place that allow for direct mail filing.

Please note that if you have previously filed your application at a local USCIS office, you are not required to re-apply as part of this procedural change.

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Wed, 25 Oct 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces Extension of Returning Worker Exemption to t http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_extension_of_returning_worker_exemption_to_t http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=654 USCIS Announces Extension of Returning Worker Exemption to the H-2B Numerical Limitation

 

Oct 23 2006

Press Office U.S. Department of Homeland Security Press Release

One Year Exemption to Remain in Effect until September 30, 2007

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the “returning worker” exemption to the H-2B numerical limitation has been extended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (H.R. 5122), section 1074, which was signed by President Bush on Oct. 17, 2006. The one year extension of the “returning worker” provisions will remain in effect until September 30, 2007.

Petitions filed for returning H-2B workers do not count towards the congressionally mandated bi-annual H-2B cap. “Returning workers” are exempt from H-2B cap limitations. In order to qualify, USCIS must have previously counted the “returning worker” against the H-2B numerical cap in one of the three fiscal years preceding the current year (i.e. between October 1, 2003 and September 30, 2006). Any worker not certified as a “returning worker” is subject to the numerical limitations for the relevant fiscal year. Petitions received after the “final receipt date” which contain a combination of “returning workers” and workers subject to the current H-2B cap will be rejected with respect to non-returning workers, and petitioning employers will receive partial approvals for those aliens who qualify as “returning workers” if otherwise approvable.

USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

• Extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the United States;

• Change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay;

• Allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay; or

• Request eligible H-2B “returning workers.”

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Mon, 23 Oct 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Vermont Service Center Creates PO Boxes for Certain Case Typ http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/vermont_service_center_creates_po_boxes_for_certain_case_typ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=655 Vermont Service Center Creates PO Boxes for Certain Case Types

 

Oct 16 2006

The Vermont Service Center has established PO Boxes for certain case types. These PO Boxes are as follows:

I-751 – PO Box 200
I-129 – PO Box 300
N-400 – PO Box 400
I-130 – PO Box 500
G-28 – PO Box 600

The Vermont Service Center notes that when submitting an application or petition to one of the above PO Boxes, that you use the following format for the Service Center’s address:

Vermont Service Center/USCIS
P.O. Box (Include here the PO Box #)

St. Albans, VT 05479


If you are submitting an application or petition for a case not listed above, you should use the following format for the Service Center’s address:

Vermont Service Center/USCIS
ATTN:
(Include here the type of form you are submitting)
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479


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Mon, 16 Oct 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Congressional Report on Foreign Students Calls for a Need to http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/congressional_report_on_foreign_students_calls_for_a_need_to http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=656 Congressional Report on Foreign Students Calls for a Need to Increase Competitiveness

 

Oct 13 2006

The Congressional Research Service just issued a comprehensive report on factors related to foreign students in the U.S. According to the congressional report, concerns regarding competitiveness are now more important than security concerns, a major shift in focus from the way that foreign students were perceived after 9/11.

According to the report, “Higher education institutions in the United States are concerned over their ability to attract the numbers and quality of foreign students, and whether the new post-September 11 security measures impede the entry of potential students into the U.S. education system. The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) increasingly rely on foreign students, and these fields hold a top priority with most research institutions.”

The report continues by justifying the need for foreign students in an economic situation where there is a high demand for the skill sets provided by the above-stated fields of study. Many groups and organizations involved in higher education, according to the report, are now looking for ways to “expand pathways for foreign students to emigrate.” Concerns have also been raised regarding issues related to the funding and English-language competency of foreign students.

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Fri, 13 Oct 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Diversity Visa Lottery 2008 Now Open http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/diversity_visa_lottery_2008_now_open_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=657 Diversity Visa Lottery 2008 Now Open

 

Oct 8 2006

The Department of State issued an informative bulletin regarding the 2008 Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which is open from noon EST, Wednesday, October 4 to noon EST, Sunday, December 3.

The annual DV program allows for a maximum of 55,000 Diversity Visas to be issued each fiscal year to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. This program provides permanent residency visas to people that meet a set of simple guidelines. These guidelines include (1) nativity to a country eligible for the program; and (2) proof that you have met either the education or work experience requirement of the program. You must either have a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.

A computer-generated random lottery will draw selectees for these diversity visas. These visas will be distributed among the six geographic reasons; more visas will go to regions with lower rates of immigration and no visas will be provided to countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the past five years.

According to the Department of State, for DV-2008, natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply; their countries sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years:

Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

Please note that people that were born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible for this program.

Interested applicants can either access the form for the program at www.dvlottery.state.gov.

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Sun, 08 Oct 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Nebraska Service Center Now Accepting Concurrent I-485 Filin http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nebraska_service_center_now_accepting_concurrent_i-485_filin http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=658 Nebraska Service Center Now Accepting Concurrent I-485 Filings for I-140 Premium Processing

 

Oct 3 2006

The USCIS recently noted that the Nebraska Service Center now accepts concurrent filings of I-140 and I-485 visa petitions for I-140 applicants seeking premium processing. According to the USCIS, the I-140 will be processed according to the premium processing program and the I-485 and all concurrently filed I-765 and I-131 applications will be processed according to regular processing timelines. Please do note that beneficiaries of I-485 applications are required to have an immigrant number immediately available in order to qualify for concurrent filing.

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Tue, 03 Oct 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Judiciary Committee Reauthorizes Physicians for Unders http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_judiciary_committee_reauthorizes_physicians_for_unders http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=661 House Judiciary Committee Reauthorizes Physicians for Underserved Areas Act

 

Sep 28 2006

Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee amended and passed the “Physicians For Underserved Areas Act.” This legislation would reauthorize the J-1 visa waiver program for an additional two years. This waiver program enables foreign-born doctors to stay in the U.S. and receive a waiver of the foreign country requirement as long as they spend three years working in areas of the U.S. facing shortages of physicians.

This bill, in its original form, would have made the program permanent. However, an approved amendment submitted by Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) changed the bill so that the program would only be applicable for another two years.

Hopefully, the committee will realize the importance of this program in two years and will make the program a permanent fixture of immigration legislation.

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Thu, 28 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Passes Bill to Strengthen Border Patrol http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_passes_bill_to_strengthen_border_patrol_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=662 House Passes Bill to Strengthen Border Patrol

 

Sep 27 2006

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the “More Border Patrol Agents Now Act of 2006. The act requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan to determine how the Border Patrol can more effectively recruit and maintain Border Patrol agents.

In addition, the act calls for bonuses for agents who agree to serve with the patrol for a specified amount of time.

Finally, the act will waive the fee required of retired agents who return to the Border Patrol after retirement. This act, as it currently stands, will be active for a five-year period.

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Wed, 27 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Passes Three Harsh Immigration Enforcement Bills http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_passes_three_harsh_immigration_enforcement_bills_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=663 House Passes Three Harsh Immigration Enforcement Bills

 

Sep 21 2006

The House of Representatives today passed three harsh immigration enforcement bills.

The first bill, the Community Protection Act of 2006, calls to deny fair treatment and due process of law to categories of individuals living in the United States. For example, the Act enables immigration enforcement to indefinitely hold aliens awaiting removal, even in the face of Supreme Court decisions that required this practice be eliminated. In addition, the Act expands the use of expedited removal proceedings to remove individuals already in the U.S, including those that have been here for years. This provision could lead to the deportation of potentially innocent people. Finally, the Act gives the Executive Branch the power to classify groups of individuals as “criminal street gangs” and strip supposed members of these “gangs” of nearly all their legal rights.

The Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006 would further limit the rights of individuals living in the United States. This act gives local and state police the authority to investigate, arrest and detain non-citizens for civil violations of immigration status. This act also greatly limits federal courts from providing relief for accused individuals involved in these civil immigration proceedings.

The third Act passed today, the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2006, calls for the imprisonment, for up to twenty years, for any individual who knowingly constructs or finances the construction of a cross-border tunnel that has not been legally authorized to be built. The Act also calls for the imprisonment for up to ten years, for any individual who permits the construction of such a tunnel on their land.

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Thu, 21 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Introduces a New Process for Issuing EAD cards to Asyl http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_introduces_a_new_process_for_issuing_ead_cards_to_asyl http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=664 USCIS Introduces a New Process for Issuing EAD cards to Asylees

 

Sep 19 2006

Starting October 1, 2006, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Asylum Division will begin a new process throughout the U.S. for issuing secure Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to individuals who have been granted asylum.

Under the current regulations, asylees are able to work in the United States upon receiving asylum status. Asylees received provisional Form I-688B cards showing their employment authorization on the same day that they received their asylum approval letters. Asylees interviewed at an Asylum Office circuit ride location were told to return to the District Office to receive their I-688B cards, which were issued with a one-year validity period.

Under this new process, asylees will receive in the mail Form I-766, the EAD card, a more standard and secure card that will be valid for two years. This, USCIS states, will give asylees a more reasonable amount of time to apply for and receive an adjustment of status before the expiration of the EAD.

This new process was pilot tested in Arlington, VA in March of this year and will be implemented throughout the U.S. by October 1.

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Tue, 19 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Announces the Elimination of Backlogged Naturalization http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_the_elimination_of_backlogged_naturalization http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=665 USCIS Announces the Elimination of Backlogged Naturalization Applications

 

Sep 16 2006

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that they have eliminated the backlog of N-400 Naturalization Application cases. USCIS has completed roughly 340,000 backlogged cases and processing time for these cases has been minimized from an average of 14 months (as seen in early 2004) to roughly 5 months today.

The overall backlog of applications has decreased from 3.8 million in 2004 to a little over 1.1 million in July of this year. Of these 1.1 million cases, 140,000 are considered backlogged and controlled by USCIS. Other cases, such as those pending security checks or naturalization test retakes, are out of the control of USCIS and are not defined as ready to be adjudicated.

“Our work takes on significance beyond other government benefits. What we do is more than just numbers, applications and forms. The services we provide profoundly affect people’s lives,” said Emilio Gonzalez, director, USCIS. “By eliminating the Naturalization backlog, we provide those who aspire to become Americans with an invaluable opportunity to contribute back to our Nation.”

The changes in naturalization backlogs are part of a fulfillment of a mandate made by President Bush, who called for the majority of applications to be processed within an average of 6 months of filing by October of this year.

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Sat, 16 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Republicans Introduce New Border Security Act - More t http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_republicans_introduce_new_border_security_act_-_more_t http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=666 House Republicans Introduce New Border Security Act - More to Come

 

Sep 13 2006

This morning, House Republicans introduced the Secure Fence Act of 2006 to be considered by the House of Representatives Tomorrow. This proposed Act is the first in a series of efforts that House Republicans will be introducing and sending to President Bush this year.

At the core of the proposed Act is a shifting of operational control of the physical and maritime borders of the country to the Secretary of Homeland Security, who will be acalled upon to "take all actions [he] determines necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States ."

The Act would shift responsibility for border control to the DHS in an effort to strengthen security measures. House Republicans intend to introduce additional measures tomorrow in an effort to enact changes they intend to implement prior to the upcoming elections.

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Wed, 13 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Delays Caused by Delivery Services No Excuse in Immigration http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/delays_caused_by_delivery_services_no_excuse_in_immigration_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=667 Delays Caused by Delivery Services No Excuse in Immigration Appeals

 

Sep 13 2006

A quick note for visitors to our website: the Department of Justice's Board of Immigration Appeals has denied the motion of a respondent who believed that the late filing of their appeal should be excused because the overnight delivery service they used did not deliver that appeal in a timely fashion. In a recent case, the BIA held that it did not have the authority to extend the 30-day time limit for filing an appeal. While the BIA could certify certain cases to itself in exceptional circumstances, BIA would not consider a one-day delay by an overnight delivery service enough of a warrant to provide an untimely appeal on certification.

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Wed, 13 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Senate Bill Gives $2 Billion for Border Security-House A http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_senate_bill_gives_%242_billion_for_border_security-house_a http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=668 New Senate Bill Gives $2 Billion for Border Security-House Avoids Compromise on Immigration Reform

 

Sep 8 2006

The Senate, yesterday, passed by a vote of 98-0 the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for 2007. The nearly $500 billion defense spending act includes roughly $2 billion allocated for emergency funding for border security measures. These border security measures were introduced in early August by Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). The emergency funds would help pay for the construction of 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southwest border of the U.S.

Similar provisions were included in an amendment connected to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill. However, that bill is currently in limbo as House Republican leaders actively subterfuge the process of coming up with a reasonable compromise that respects all sides of the immigration issue. The House is currently involved in a series of nationwide faux hearings on the topic and no compromise is on the table.

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Fri, 08 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Notes Conditions of Availability Regarding Premium Pro http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_notes_conditions_of_availability_regarding_premium_pro http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=669 USCIS Notes Conditions of Availability Regarding Premium Processing

 

Sep 5 2006

The USCIS has informed us of various conditions of availability that are being placed on the Premium Processing Service. According to the USCIS website, Premium Processing Service is available for certain Form I-140 classifications (including various student, investor and worker nonimmigrant visas), as long as the case does not involve:

1. A second filing of a Form I-140 petition while an initial Form I-140 remains pending;
2. Labor Certification substitution requests; and
3. Duplicate Labor Certification requests.

These additional conditions are being included by the USCIS; special processing must take place in conditions described above that make it impossible to guarantee processing within 15 calendar days.

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Tue, 05 Sep 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Update on H-2B FY 2007 Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/update_on_h-2b_fy_2007_cap_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=673 Update on H-2B FY 2007 Cap

 

Aug 31 2006

The USCIS has noted that, as of August 30, it has received 12,696 H-2B petitions toward its Fiscal Year 2007 annual cap. For updated information on the amount of petitions received, please visit the following website: http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/services/tempbenefits/cap.htm

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Thu, 31 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Creates Dedicated Email Addresses for International Ad http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_creates_dedicated_email_addresses_for_international_ad http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=671 USCIS Creates Dedicated Email Addresses for International Adoption Questions

 

Aug 25 2006

In an attempt to make easier the complicated process of adopting international children, the USCIS has created a set of email addresses that are solely devoted to issues related to international adoption. Each district office of the USCIS will have a dedicated email address that is reserved just for customer service issues related to international adoption.

USCIS notes that it is quite common for prospective adoptive parents to have frequent questions that are both complex and urgent and that are not easily answerable by using traditionally available channels of customer service. Interested individuals should call the USCIS National Customer Service Center’s information line at 1 (800) 375-5283 to obtain this dedicated email address for the USCIS district that covers their immigration needs.

Hopefully, this new email service can be of assistance to prospective adoptive parents.

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Fri, 25 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Limited Visa Processing Now Active at the Beirut Consular Se http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/limited_visa_processing_now_active_at_the_beirut_consular_se http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=672 Limited Visa Processing Now Active at the Beirut Consular Section

 

Aug 24 2006

As of today, the Consular Section in Beirut will continue processing immigrant visas. According to the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, Lebanese civilians whose immigrant visa interviews were cancelled due to the conflict with Israel will have those interviews immediately re-scheduled. In addition, beginning Monday, August 28, the Consular Section will continue in a limited fashion processing of the following nonimmigrant visas: F, H, J, L, M, O and P. Processing for all other visitor visas will remain on temporary hold until a further notice is issued.

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Thu, 24 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Adds Two New Categories to Premium Processing Category http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_adds_two_new_categories_to_premium_processing_category http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=674 USCIS Adds Two New Categories to Premium Processing Category

 

Aug 21 2006

The USCIS announced yesterday the addition of two new classifications to the Premium Processing Service, a special service that gives U.S. businesses the ability to speed up the processing of their clients’ or employees’ visa petitions. For a $1,000 Premium Processing Fee, their cases will be processed within 15 calendar days.

As of August 28, USCIS will accept requests for Premium Processing for petitions requesting two employment-based immigration categories within the third employment-based preference. These two categories include EB-3 professionals, the immigrant workers with bachelor degrees who are members of the professions, and EB-3 Skilled Workers, immigrant workers who perform skilled labor that requires at least two years of education, training or experience. Do note that this Premium Processing is not available to other workers in the EB-3 Category, those immigrant workers applying for jobs that do not require two years of education, training or experience.

Additionally, USCIS has revised the Request for Premium Processing Services, Form, I-907. This revised form must be used on or after August 28, 2006. Any request submitted on or after that date on the old form will be rejected. However, this revised form can not be submitted prior to that date.

Premium Processing Service has been available since 2001 for a range of classifications, within Form I-129, including the following: E treaty traders and investors under the E category; specialty occupation workers under the H-1B category: temporary workers engaged in agricultural services under the H-2B category; H-3 trainees; L intracompany transferres; foreign workers with extraordinary ability under the O category; performers, athletes and those performing essential support services for those individuals under the P category; R religious workers; and professionals from Canada and Mexico seeking to enter the U.S. under provisions included in NAFTA.

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Mon, 21 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Foreign Born Population Increased Since 2000, Says Census Bu http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/foreign_born_population_increased_since_2000%2C_says_census_bu http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=675 Foreign Born Population Increased Since 2000, Says Census Bureau

 

Aug 17 2006

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of immigrants currently living in the U.S. has increased 16 percent over the last five years; the current total amount of immigrants in the U.S. is 35.7 million people, with many of these immigrants living in states that have not traditionally been sites of destination. The total amount of foreign born residents in the U.S. makes up 12.4 percent of the total U.S. population, up from 11.1 percent in 2000. The majority of new immigrants come to the U.S. from Mexico and other countries in Central and South America.

The increase in migrants to non-traditional areas will add to the stress of these regions in areas such as education, health and other public services and it is essential that the nation as a whole understand the importance of addressing the needs of this large population of American residents.

Over the past five years, South Carolina saw a 48 percent increase in immigrants, the largest noted increase. Delaware had a 40 percent increase; Massachusetts, 14.4 percent; and Rhode Island, 12.6 percent.

According to census data, California had the highest rate of foreign born residents; 27.2 percent of the state’s population were born outside the U.S.

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Thu, 17 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Citizens and Nonimmigrant Aliens Will Soon Be Required to Sh http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/citizens_and_nonimmigrant_aliens_will_soon_be_required_to_sh http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=676 Citizens and Nonimmigrant Aliens Will Soon Be Required to Show Passports when Entering the U.S.

 

Aug 12 2006

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that, by January 1, 2008, all U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens will only be able to enter the U.S. with passports or other documents designated as satisfactory by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security, this week, submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking as the first step toward implementing this new requirement.

According to Homeland security, as of January 8, 2007, all U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens from Canada, Bermuda and Mexico that enter the U.S. at air ports of entry and most sea ports of entry will be required, with a few exceptions, to show a valid passport.

 

 

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Sat, 12 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senators Durbin and Sununu Call for Temporary Protected Stat http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senators_durbin_and_sununu_call_for_temporary_protected_stat http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=677 Senators Durbin and Sununu Call for Temporary Protected Status for Lebanese Nationals

 

Aug 10 2006

In response to recent devastation in Lebanon, in which nearly a million people have been displaced, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and John Sununu (R-NH) presented a new proposal to address immigration issues related to displaced Lebanese nationals. The Lebanese Temporary Protected Status Act of 2006 would provide temporary protected status for Lebanese citizens affected by the devastation caused by the hostilities with Israel. According to the proposed Act, nationals of Lebanon who have been continuously present in the U.S. since the enactment of this proposed act and who are otherwise admissible as immigrants to the U.S. would be provided with temporary protected status for one year.

Temporary Protected Status can be provided to nationals of other nations who are currently residing in the U.S. in cases where returning to their country would pose a serious threat to their personal safety due to ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

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Thu, 10 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Afghani and Iraqi Translators May Now Apply for U.S. Citizen http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/afghani_and_iraqi_translators_may_now_apply_for_u.s._citizen http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=678 Afghani and Iraqi Translators May Now Apply for U.S. Citizenship

 

Aug 6 2006

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Afghan and Iraqi nationals who have worked with the U.S. military as translators are now eligible to submit requests for special immigrant status. This new category, created by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2006, allows these translators and their families to legally enter the U.S., apply for permanent residency and eventually become U.S. citizens. Translators should file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Form (Form I-360) with evidence showing that the applicants meet the following criteria:

Be a national of Iraq or Afghanistan,

Have worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces as a translator for a period of at least 12 months,

Have obtained a favorable written recommendation from a General or Flag Officer in the chain of command of the unit supported by the translator,

Have cleared a background check and screening as determined by a General or Flag Officer in the chain of command of unit supported by the translator. The Department of Defense will determine the type of background check and screening required on a case-by-case basis, and

Be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and otherwise admissible to the United States for permanent residence. In determining such admissibility, the grounds for inadmissibility relating to “public charge” shall not apply.

Required evidence at time of filing include the following:

A copy of the passport or birth certificate showing the alien is a national of Iraq or Afghanistan,

Proof, issued by the U.S. Armed Forces, of working as a translator with the Armed Forces for at least 12 months,

Proof of background check and screening by the U.S. Armed Forces. The Department of Defense will determine the type of background check and screening required on a case-by-case basis,

A recommendation letter from General or Flag Officer, and

A copy of the front and back of the applicant’s Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) if filed in the United States.

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Sun, 06 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Immigration Update for Lebanese Citizens http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/immigration_update_for_lebanese_citizens_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=679 Immigration Update for Lebanese Citizens

 

Aug 3 2006

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut is temporarily closed for all visa applications, interviews and processing due to the current conflict in the region. The Department of State has informed us, however, that the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece will begin all visa processing for Lebanese citizens.

As of August 1, Lebanese citizens applying for F, H, J, L , M, O or P nonimmigrant visas should schedule interview appointments through the Athens embassy website (http://athens.usembassy.gov/) or, if they are in Greece, by using the user-pay call center at 90-11-230-730.

Also, as of that August 1 date, Lebanese citizens who have an immigrant petition approved for them and are waiting for an interview should contact the Athens Embassy via email at Athens-IV-Lebanon@state.gov.

Individuals who have already applied for their immigrant visas at the Beirut Embassy should inquire about whether their cases can be transferred to Athens for processing by emailing Athens-IV-Lebanon@state.gov.

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Thu, 03 Aug 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Proposes New Advance Passenger Information System Requir http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_proposes_new_advance_passenger_information_system_requir http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=680 DHS Proposes New Advance Passenger Information System Requirement

 

Jul 12 2006

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this week a rule that proposes a pre-departure Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) requirement. The APIS requirement would enable DHS to collect passenger information for flights and cruises coming to the U.S. before these vessels leave their foreign ports. This would let DHS identify potential threats and work with the airlines and international law enforcement officials to block such people from boarding planes or remove them before the planes leave the ground. Information collected as part of the APIS requirement include: full name, gender, and the country where the passport was issued.

“Our priority is to keep terrorists out of the United States by preventing them from boarding international flights,” said Michael Chertoff, Secretary of DHS. “Receiving APIS data before a plane takes off is another layer of security that allows us to identify terrorists before they are en route to the United States. This rule will also help eliminate the inconvenience of flight diversions due to security concerns.

Two options have been posted for sea and air carriers to fulfill the APIS requirement. The APIS Quick Query, which is currently being developed for air travel, would allow international air carriers to submit their manifest information online up to 15 minutes before leaving their port. The second available option, APIS-60, would require that carriers submit their complete manifest information one hour before leaving their port. This option will be available for air and sea carriers.

A Final Rule regarding the APIS requirement will be issued after a 30-day public comment period.

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Wed, 12 Jul 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Representative Pence to Propose Restrictive Guest Worker Pro http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/representative_pence_to_propose_restrictive_guest_worker_pro http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=681 Representative Pence to Propose Restrictive Guest Worker Program

 

Jul 10 2006

Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) has publicly stated that he will introduce the Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act, a bill described by Pence as No Amnesty Immigration Reform. The plan outlines a four-step process, according to Pence:

Secure our border.

Make the decision, once and for all, to deny amnesty to people whose first act in the United States was a violation of the law.

Put in place a guest worker program, without amnesty, that will efficiently provide American employers with willing guest workers who come to Americalegally.

Enforce tough employer sanctions that ensure a full partnership between American business and the American government in the enforcement of our laws on immigration and guest workers.

According to Pence: “The Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act is a bill that is tough on border security and tough on employers who hire illegal aliens, but recognizes the need for a guest worker program that operates without amnesty and without growing into a huge new government bureaucracy.”

Pence’s proposal would require all potential guest workers to self-deport themselves and come back to the U.S.legally as guest workers. Pence proposes to set up private worker placement agencies, licensed by the federal government, that would match guest workers with jobs in the U.S. that cannot be filled with American workers.

Additional limits proposed by Pence include a limited number of guest worker visas, English proficiency as a requirement for guest workers and the provision of secure identification cards for guest workers.

Pence’s proposal will be miles away from the recent Senate proposal; if it is approved by the House of Representatives, the two Houses will have their work laid out for them to search for an amicable solution to provide a meaningful and fair Guest Worker Program in the U.S.

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Mon, 10 Jul 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Posts Total Received H-1B Advanced Degree Exemption Pe http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_total_received_h-1b_advanced_degree_exemption_pe http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=682 USCIS Posts Total Received H-1B Advanced Degree Exemption Petitions

 

Jul 7 2006

This week the USCIS posted the current cap for the H-1B U.S. Advanced Degree exemption petitions. As of the end of June, the USCIS counted a total of 13,687 received petitions, not including the additional 500 received but not yet data-entered into the system. The USCIS expects to continue to receive additional petitions until the cap is reached.

The H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004, which took effect two months ago, made available 20,000 new H-1B visas for foreign workers with either a Master’s degree or higher from a U.S. academic institution.

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Fri, 07 Jul 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Employment-Based Applications Should Now Be Submitted to the http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/employment-based_applications_should_now_be_submitted_to_the http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=683 Employment-Based Applications Should Now Be Submitted to the Nebraska Service Center

 

Jul 3 2006

The USCIS, this week, announced a change in filing procedures for employment-based applications for lawful permanent resident status. As of July 24, all applicants that are filing an Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence (Form I-485), based on a pending or approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) (which is also known as standalone filing) are required to mail their application directly to the Nebraska Service Center. In addition, all accompanying forms, including the Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) and the Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) should be submitted to this same service center.

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Mon, 03 Jul 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Homeland Security S http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_appropriations_committee_approves_homeland_security_s http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=684 Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Homeland Security Spending Package

 

Jul 1 2006

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee, by a unanimous vote of 28-0, approved a $32.8 billion Homeland Security spending package for Fiscal Year 2007. This bill, which will be put to a full Senate vote on July 10, provides more than $6 billion to boost border protection. Border protection amenities would include an additional 1,000 Border Patrol Agents (not including the 1,000 provided by the FY 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act).

In addition, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement would receive nearly $4 billion, which would provide an additional 1,000 detention beds (which would be a total of 5,000 new beds, when including those appropriated by the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act).

Finally, an amendment was included in the bill that would delay from January 1, 2008 to June 1, 2009 the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. This initiative requires all individuals entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda or Panama to have passports or other secure identification before being allowed to enter this country. This initiative was originally voted into law as part of the 2004 Intelligence Reform Bill.

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Sat, 01 Jul 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Information on Affidavits of Support http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_information_on_affidavits_of_support_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=685 New Information on Affidavits of Support

 

Jun 27 2006

Michael Aytes, the acting director for domestic operations of the USCIS, this week posted a memo to adjudicators guiding them on the final rule relating to the use of Affidavits of Support (Forms I-864). According to the final rule, which was published on June 21, Affidavits of Support must be “sufficient both at the time the adjustment of status application is file and at the time the adjustment application is adjudicated [and] subject to limited exceptions, an Affidavit of Support is sufficient at the time of the adjudication if it was sufficient at the time it was filed with the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status,” said Aytes.

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Tue, 27 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Has Entered All H-1B Cap Petitions; Receipts Issued http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_has_entered_all_h-1b_cap_petitions%3B_receipts_issued_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=686 USCIS Has Entered All H-1B Cap Petitions; Receipts Issued

 

Jun 22 2006

According to the USCIS, all H-1B petitions subject to the annual cap that were received on May 26 of this year were entered into the system and receipts were issued to the petitioners. USCIS states that the number of petitions entered into their system exceeded the set cap by roughly 100 petitions.

Do note, however, that the random selection process was conducted after the issuance of receipts. What this means is that, even though you may receive a receipt, you may not have been selected in the lottery.

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Thu, 22 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Reauthorizes H-1C Visa for Foreign Nurses in Medically http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_reauthorizes_h-1c_visa_for_foreign_nurses_in_medically http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=687 House Reauthorizes H-1C Visa for Foreign Nurses in Medically Underserved Areas

 

Jun 20 2006

The House of Representatives today passed the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Reauthorization Act of 2005. This amended bill would extend for a total of three years the 1999 act that provided H-1C visas for up to 500 foreign nurses per year to work in medically undeserved areas.

The original Reauthorization Bill was introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) on 3/14/05 and cosponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), and would have indefinitely extended the Act.

A similar bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), is currently pending in the Senate.

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Tue, 20 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Proposes New Regulations Regarding Intercountry Adoption http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dos_proposes_new_regulations_regarding_intercountry_adoption http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=688 DOS Proposes New Regulations Regarding Intercountry Adoptions

 

Jun 18 2006

The Department of State has proposed to implement new regulations regarding intercountry adoptions. In a recent notice, the DOS is requesting comments on utilization of the certification and declaration provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption and the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 for all intercountry adoption and custody proceedings that take place in the U.S. for immigrations and emigrations of children. According to DOS, a process for seeking certification that adoptions done in the U.S. in accordance with the Convention will also be established.

To view the full text of the Hague Convention, please click here.

The USCIS also has detailed information about the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000.

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Sun, 18 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
ICE Completes its “Operation Return to Sender” Initiativ http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ice_completes_its_%E2%80%9Coperation_return_to_sender%E2%80%9D_initiativ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=689 ICE Completes its “Operation Return to Sender” Initiative

 

Jun 14 2006

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has just completed its “Operation Return to Sender” initiative and has announced that it apprehended more than 2,000 criminal aliens, illegal alien gang members, fugitive aliens and other violators of immigration status. The initiative, which ran from May 26 to June 13, include virtually every ICE field office in the nation, working in collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies.

According to ICE, about half of the apprehended individuals had criminal records for crimes such as sexual assault of a minor, assault with a deadly weapon and abduction. In a press release published today, ICE representatives note the following statistics:

“Approximately 146 of those arrested had convictions for sexual offenses involving minors. In addition, roughly 367 of the arrested aliens were members or associates of violent street gangs, including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Finally, roughly 640 of those arrested were fugitive aliens who had been issued final orders of removal by an Immigration judge but failed to comply.”

According to ICE: “America’s welcome does not extend to immigrants who come here to commit crimes. ICE will leave no stone unturned in hunting down and deporting aliens who victimize our communities. Interior enforcement initiatives like Operation Return to Sender are a critical and necessary complement to our nation’s border security measures.”

It is, however, important to note that the other half of the apprehended individuals were picked up by ICE for administrative immigration violations. These people have been either placed in deportation proceedings or have already been repatriated to their home countries.

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Wed, 14 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS To Issue Requests for Evidence to Alien Fiancés http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_issue_requests_for_evidence_to_alien_fianc%C3%A9s_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=690 USCIS To Issue Requests for Evidence to Alien Fiancés

 

Jun 13 2006

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this week that it will begin issuing “Requests for Evidence” for over 10,000 Alien Fiancé(e) Petitions (Form I-129F) that are currently being held at USCIS Service Centers. In accordance with provisions of the International Marriage Brokers Regulation Act of 2005, the USCIS will immediately start issuing these RFEs to petitioners affected by this provision.

According to USCIS all petitions that were filed on or after March 6 of this year are required to be supplemented with additional information, including data related to the petitioner’s criminal history (if relevant). A new Form-I-129F with these changes incorporated will be available later this month.

The goal of these changes are to ensure protection of alien fiancées against situations of domestic violence. This is an essential change in process and is quite important to ensure that those alien fiancées that do come to the U.S. do so in a safe and meaningful way.

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Tue, 13 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOL to Reopen Certain Labor Certification Applications http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_to_reopen_certain_labor_certification_applications_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=691 Department of Labor to Reopen Certain Labor Certification Applications

 

Jun 8 2006

The Department of Labor has agreed to reopen certain labor certification applications that were closed by the Backlog Elimination Centers for failure to respond to 45-day letters. Cases in which an employer or attorney notified the Certifying Officer that a 45-day letter was not received will be opened again for review by the Department of Labor.

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Thu, 08 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Information on the H-1B Exemption Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_information_on_the_h-1b_exemption_cap_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=692 USCIS Information on the H-1B Exemption Cap

 

Jun 7 2006

The USCIS has updated information on its website related to the H-1B Exemption. For more information, visit the website at http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/services/tempbenefits/cap.htm.

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Wed, 07 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reaches_h-1b_cap_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=693 USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap

 

Jun 1 2006

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated cap for fiscal year 2007 (FY 2007). The "final receipt date" for H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2007 annual cap was May 26, 2006. Affected H-1B petitions received on that date will be subject to the random selection process described below. H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2007 annual cap that are received by USCIS after the "final receipt date" will be rejected. Additional information regarding the specific number of H-1B petitions processed is available at: www.uscis.gov/graphics/services/tempbenefits/cap.htm .

Cap and Set Asides : Congress has established an annual fiscal year limitation of 65,000 on the number of available H-1B visas, commonly referred to as the "H-1B cap." Under the terms of the legislation implementing the United States-Chile and United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreements, 6,800 of the 65,000 available H-1B visas are annually set aside for the Chile/Singapore H-1B1 program. As a result of reserving 6,800 H-1B1 visas for FY 2007, the H-1B cap for that fiscal year is 58,200. However, USCIS has added back to the H-1B cap 6,100 unused FY 2006 H-1B1 visas, for a total of 64,300, as described below.

Unused Chile/Singapore visa numbers for a particular fiscal year are to be used within the first 45 days of the next fiscal year. As FY 2007 H-1B petitions are approved for start dates beginning no earlier than the first day of fiscal year 2007 and reasonable anticipated usage of approved H-1B petitions for any 45-day period exceeds 8,000, USCIS has incorporated its reasonable projection based on H-1B1 usage to date that 700 H-1B1 visa numbers will be used in FY 2006 into the FY 2007 H-1B cap count by adding the remaining 6,100 unused H-1B1 visas back into that count, resulting in a total cap of 64,300 FY 2007 H-1B visas approvable. Because unused H-1B1 visas for FY 2006 have been already allocated in this manner, there will be no additional later H-1B filing season to use these visas. The 6,800 visas reserved from the FY 2007 H-1B count for FY 2007 H-1B1 purposes are anticipated to be handled in a similar manner with respect to the FY 2008 H-1B cap count during calendar year 2007. This allocation of FY 2006 H-1B1 visas based upon reasonable projections of usage to the end of the fiscal year will not affect the availability of H-1B1 visas in any way; they will continue to be fully available, with any year-end difference between actual and projected usage expected to be minimal.

Cap Procedures : In accordance with the procedures announced in the Federal Register at 70 FR 23775 (May 5, 2005) (Allocation of Additional H-1B Visas Created by the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004) USCIS has implemented the following process for handling H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2007 cap:

• USCIS closely monitored FY 2007 H-1B filings and used projections to determine the date on which it received the number of petitions necessary to reach the Congressionally mandated cap.
• USCIS determined that the Congressionally mandated cap had been exceeded on May 26, 2006, the "final receipt date."
• USCIS will subject H-1B petitions received on the "final receipt date" to a computer-generated random selection process. This process will enable USCIS to apply the remaining number of available H-1B visas to petitions received on that day.
• Cap subject H-1B petitions that are not randomly selected in the process described above will be rejected and returned along with the filing fee(s).
• Petitioners may re-submit the petitions when H-1B visas become available for FY 2008.
• The earliest date for which a petitioner may file a petition requesting FY 2008 H-1B employment with an employment start date of October 1, 2007, is April 1, 2007.

Current H-1B Workers : Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers do not count towards the Congressionally mandated H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to 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.
• Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

Cap-Exempt Petitions : As directed by the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of aliens with U.S.-earned masters' or higher degrees will be exempt from any fiscal year cap on available H-1B visas. For FY 2007, USCIS has received approximately 5,830 exempt petitions.

USCIS also notes that petitions for new H-1B employment are exempt from the annual cap if the aliens will be employed at institutions of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entities, or at nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations. Thus, petitions for these exempt H-1B categories may be filed for work dates starting in FY 2006 or 2007.

H-1B in General: U.S. businesses utilize the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. As part of the H-1B program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) require U.S. employers to meet specific labor conditions to ensure that American workers are not adversely impacted, while the DOL's Wage and Hour Division safeguards the treatment and compensation of H-1B workers.

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Thu, 01 Jun 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Pro-Business Immigration Lobbyists Praise Senate’s Immigra http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/pro-business_immigration_lobbyists_praise_senate%E2%80%99s_immigra http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=694 Pro-Business Immigration Lobbyists Praise Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill, Caution About Amendment

 

May 26 2006

Pro-business immigration lobbying groups are praising the Senate’s inclusion of key business immigration provisions to their recently passed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill. Among these provisions are the following:

Raising the H-1B visa cap for highly educated temporary workers to 115,000, and inclusion of flexible market-based annual adjustment.

Raising the EB visa cap, along with exempting key categories of workers.

Exempting both H-1B and EB visa caps for particular workers with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

“A bipartisan Senate has taken a very big step towards resolving a chronic problem facing U.S. employers,” said Sandra Boyd, chair of Compete America, a pro-business immigration bill. “The Senate recognizes that America benefits from the contributions of highly educated foreign nationals.”

Lynn Shotwell, executive director, American Council on International Personnel, also had positive comments about the recently passed bill: “The H-1B and EB visa reform provisions adopted by the Senate are reasonable and long overdue. With the FY 2007 H-1B cap likely to be reached soon, and with backlogs in all employment based categories growing, it is imperative that meaningful reform occur this year.”

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Fri, 26 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Finally Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_finally_passes_comprehensive_immigration_reform_bill_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=695 Senate Finally Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

 

May 25 2006

The Senate, in a bipartisan effort, today voted 62 to 36 to pass a compromise version of immigration reform. The Bill contains a range of important provisions and measures, affecting the processes of immigration and enforcement. Key provisions are as follows:

Path to Legal Status for Undocumented Individuals Currently in the U.S.

Undocumented individuals who have been in the U.S. for at least five years before April 5, 2006 are eligible for 6 years of work authorization in the U.S. and are provided with a path to eventual permanent legal status, if they pay a $2,000 fine, meet certain English and Civics requirements. pass requisite background checks and pay all back taxes owed. These individuals would receive a green card after all current family backlogs are cleared and would be able to apply for citizenship after five years under green card status.

Undocumented individuals who have been in the U.S. between two and five years will be considered under Deferred Mandatory Departure Status. These individuals would be provided with work authorization and an eventual path to permanent status if they leave the country within three years, remain in their home country for a short time, then return to the U.S. These individuals could apply for readmission to the U.S. prior to leaving this country. Please note that the Departure requirement will be waived for spouses and children, or in cases of substantial hardship to the person under status or a member of their immediate family.

Family Unity & Family and Employment Visa Backlog Relief

All individuals currently in family backlog status will receive green cards before any of the currently undocumented individuals receive them. A new family preference cap of 480,000 will be created, which would add 260,000 new visas per year to ensure the backlog dissipates.

A new employment-based cap of 450,000 will be created for a 10-year period, which would add 310,000 new visas per year. Visas for spouses and some children of particular employment-based immigrants will be capped at 650,000, while others will remain outside the cap.

Thirty percent of the employment-based cap will be reserved for essential workers and provisions will be put in place for widows and orphans.

High-Skilled Workers Immigration Reforms

Also included are reforms of student visa rules to authorize dual intent, expand the period of OPT and create a direct path of permanent status for particular students with advanced degrees.

The H-1B Visa Cap will be increased to 115,000 with a market-based escalator; exemptions will be provided for individuals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. Exemptions for the annual employment-based cap will also be available for individuals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, along with aliens of extraordinary ability and outstanding professors and researchers.

Newly Created Temporary Worker Program

A new program will be created for 200,000 temporary essential workers per year. These workers will be provided with a 3 year visa that is renewable for 3 years and is portable so these individuals can work for employer(s) of their choice. Current undocumented individuals who entered the U.S. after January 2004 are eligible for this program, but must leave the U.S. to apply. It should be noted that all employers will be required to seek U.S. workers first and must instill labor protections and introduce wages at fair market value. These individuals will be able to apply for permanent status under the new employment-based cap. They can either petition for status themselves (if they have worked for four years) or their employer can petition for them.

Reforms to Agricultural Worker Program

All farmworkers who can prove that they engaged in at least 150 days of agricultural work in the U.S. during 2005 will be eligible for temporary resident status (Blue Card). Spouses and minor children will also be eligible for this status. For permanent status, these individuals must perform agricultural work for at least 100 work days per year for five years, or perform 150 days per year for three years. These individuals may work outside the field of agriculture, but those work hours will not count toward the required time.

There will be cap of 1.5 million for the earned legalization program.

The H-2A temporary foreign worker program will allow employers involved in the dairy industry to hire workers even when they are year-round workers.

DREAM Act – Undocumented High School Students

Students who entered the U.S. before they were 16 years old and are present for five years before the date of this provision’s enactment and who have graduated from high school or received a GED can apply for a 6-year conditional status. Within 6 years, if these individuals have graduated from college or completed 2 years in a degree program, or have served in the Armed Forces, this conditional status will become permment; they will receive a green card.

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Thu, 25 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
We're Nearing the H-1B Visa Cap for FY 2007 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nearing_the_h-1b_visa_cap_for_fy_2007_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=696 We're Nearing the H-1B Visa Cap for FY 2007

 

May 24 2006

According to the USCIS, as of May 23, 45,150 out of 61,000 H-1B visa quota numbers have been used for Fiscal Year 2007. This number rose from the 42,876 posted on the USCIS website May 19.

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Wed, 24 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Passes Amendment Making English the National Language http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_passes_amendment_making_english_the_national_language http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=697 Senate Passes Amendment Making English the National Language of the U.S.

 

May 20 2006

This week, the Senate passed an amendment by a vote of 63 to 34 that English will be the “National Language” of the U.S. and declaring that no person has a right to federal communications or services in any language other than English, with the exception of those already guaranteed by law.

While the measure does not alter any laws currently in place that require certain government documents and services to be provided multilingually, opponents of the measure state that it could go against executive orders, regulations and guidance that were not officially sanctioned by Congress.

But, ultimately, it is quite confusing as to what power this measure will actually have. The support it received was assuredly due to politicians affecting nationalism, an alternate measure was passed immediately after this one that declared English the “common unifying language of the United States [but would not] diminish or expand any existing rights [for multilingual services].”

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Sat, 20 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Issues Updated H-1B Cap Count http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_issues_updated_h-1b_cap_count_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=698 USCIS Issues Updated H-1B Cap Count

 

May 19 2006

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today issued an updated count of H-1B numbers for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 through May 16, 2006.

With today's release of updated numbers, USCIS has indicated that as of May 16, it has received 39,445 H-1B cases that have either been approved or were in the adjudications pipeline to count against the 58,200* standard H-1B cap. USCIS has also indicated that it has approved or was adjudicating a total of 5,048 cases against the pool of 20,000 numbers for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

For reference, USCIS's most recent prior release of H-1B cap statistics covered the period through through May 12--when USCIS indicated that 34,808 cases had been received. Although USCIS officials have recently reported a slight slowdown in filings, it is anticipated that H-1B numbers will continue to be exhausted rapidly. Indeed, if filings continue at the present rate, the H-1B cap will be reached within the next few weeks, possibly in the early part of June of this year. This would be the earliest date on which the H-1B cap was met. Based on this, G&A is advising employers to plan ahead and file H-1B cases as soon as possible to avoid being shut out by the exhaustion of the cap.

*Please note that the H-1B annual numerical cap is set at 65,000 per fiscal year, but this total is reduced by the 6,800 H-1B1 numbers that are set aside under the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements, thereby effectively leaving a total of just 58,200 standard H-1B numbers per fiscal year. USCIS has indicated that it intends to accept up to 61,000 petitions toward the H-1B cap as a means to allow for the possibility of denials and revocations.

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Fri, 19 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Bush Intends to Send National Guard Troops to U.S.-Mexico Bo http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bush_intends_to_send_national_guard_troops_to_u.s.-mexico_bo http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=699 Bush Intends to Send National Guard Troops to U.S.-Mexico Border

 

May 18 2006

In an effort to hold onto a conservative Republican base that is becoming less and less supportive of him, President Bush this week, informed the public that he intends to deploy thousands of National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico in order to thwart illegal immigration. In his speech, Bush said he would deploy up to 6,000 National Guard tropps to the 2,000 mile border as part of a nearly 2 billion dollar program to “seal off’ the U.S.’s border with it’s southern neighbor.

“We do not yet have full control of the border and I am determined to change that,” said Bush. “I am calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology on the border.”

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Thu, 18 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS May Share Certain Harmful Information to Beneficiary a http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_may_share_certain_harmful_information_to_beneficiary_a http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=700 USCIS May Share Certain Harmful Information to Beneficiary about Family-Based Sponsor

 

May 15 2006

Earlier this month, the USCIS issued a memo that informs their supervisors that certain information can be released to a beneficiary regarding his or her family-based sponsor. While, in general, this information will not be revealed, there are exceptions to the rule. Information that might affect the health and safety of the beneficiary (e.g.: that the sponsor is on the national sex offender registry) will be shared with the beneficiary.

If the USCIS decides a beneficiary needs to know more about their sponsor, the beneficiary will be called in for an in-person interview at either a district office or a USCIS office overseas. The beneficiary will then be provided with time to rethink whether he or she will want to be sponsored before adjudicating the case.

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Mon, 15 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CSC Issues Information on Expedite Requests for Petitions/Ap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/csc_issues_information_on_expedite_requests_for_petitions http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=701 CSC Issues Information on Expedite Requests for Petitions/Applications

 

May 8 2006

The California Service Center (CSC) has issued instructions and regulations regarding expedited procedures for pending applications and petitions submitted to that service center. According to the CSC, individuals wishing to begin expedited procedures for applications that have been filed and are pending at the CSC should provide the CSC with a detailed explanation regarding the reason for an expedite on a one-page letter signed by the petitioner/applicant.

Expedite requests, according to the CSC, are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are granted at the discretion of the director of the CSC. Expedite cases are provided only in the following instances:

• Severe financial loss to an individual or company;
• Extreme emergent situation;
• Humanitarian situation;
• Nonprofit status of requesting organization with the expressed goal of furthering the cultural and social interests of the U.S.;
• A situation related to the Department of Defense or a national situation;
• A USCIS error; or
• A compelling interest of the case to the USCIS.

Please note that all incomplete requests will not be granted. In addition, all supporting documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Finally, there is no appeal of a denial of an expedite request.

Expedite requests should be faxed to the CSC at (949) 389-3441.

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Mon, 08 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Homeland Security Beefs Up Enforcement of Employers of Illeg http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/homeland_security_beefs_up_enforcement_of_employers_of_illeg http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=702 Homeland Security Beefs Up Enforcement of Employers of Illegal Immigrants

 

May 6 2006

Much of recent attention focused on illegal immigration has focused on employers of illegal immigrants. In response to concerns voiced about employers’ responsibilities in ensuring that workers are in-status, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun increasing immigration enforcement of employers and are currently targeting some employers of undocumented and/or unauthorized employees. ICE enforcement against such employers include civil fines and, possibly, criminal charges and federal asset forfeiture. “[The Department of Homeland Security] has no patience for employers who tolerate or perpetuate a shadow economy,” said Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the DHS. “We intend to find employers who knowingly or recklessly hire unauthorized workers and we will use every authority within our power to shut down businesses that exploit an illegal workforce to turn a profit."

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Sat, 06 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senators Introduce SKIL Bill, In Support of Highly Skilled F http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senators_introduce_skil_bill%2C_in_support_of_highly_skilled_f http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=703 Senators Introduce SKIL Bill, In Support of Highly Skilled Foreign Workers

 

May 4 2006

The SKIL (Securing Knowledge Innovation and Leadership) Bill was introduced May 2 of this year by Senator John Cornyn (R, TX). The bill was co-sponsored by Senators George Allen (R, VA), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and Trent Lott (R-MS). The bill, which provides for various provisions that support the immigration of technical foreign workers has been greatly supported by technology companies in the United States, who depend on a continued influx of highly skilled foreign workers.

Four major provisions of the SKIL bill that support technology in the U.S. are as follows:

• The bill would exempt U.S.-educated foreign workers with advanced degrees from the H-1B and EB quotas.
• The bill would also create a flexible, market-based H-1B cap. Current limits on H-1B visas were reached in August of last year and will keep U.S. companies from employing new workers using that visa until October, 2006.
• The bill also extends the optional post-curricular training program for foreign students to 2 years from the current limit of 1 year, which would ease the transition from student to permanent resident.
• Finally, the bill exempts immigrant spouses and children of EB and permanent visa workers from any annual cap, which would free up more visas for the highly skilled workers themselves.

Supporters of the bill state that too few U.S. residents are receiving advanced degrees in science and engineering. Highly skilled foreign workers must be made available to U.S. companies for them to remain competitive in the global market.

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Thu, 04 May 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
U.S. Embassy Service Charge Increases Now Active for Indian http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/u.s._embassy_service_charge_increases_now_active_for_indian_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=704 U.S. Embassy Service Charge Increases Now Active for Indian visa petitioners

 

Apr 28 2006

As of April 20, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India have raised VFS service charges for nonimmigrant visa, immigrant visa, and U.S. passport services. This increase in fees is due to the recently enacted 2006 Indian Finance Bill which increased tax rates applicable to taxable services.

Please note the new service charges:

• Nonimmigrant visa service charge - Rs. 281

• Immigrant visa service charge - Rs. 337

• U.S. passport service charge - Rs. 141

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Fri, 28 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Nepalis Seeking Visas to U.S. Should Schedule Appointments a http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nepalis_seeking_visas_to_u.s._should_schedule_appointments_a http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=705 Nepalis Seeking Visas to U.S. Should Schedule Appointments at New Delhi Embassy

 

Apr 27 2006

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal has been closed for visa services due to recent changes in the political climate in that nation. Until the U.S. embassy in Kathmandu is able to resume its visa services, applications to travel to the U.S. for citizens and residents of Nepal will be handled at the New Delhi, India embassy.

Applicants for nonimmigrant, immigrant and diversity visa interviews should contact the embassy at nepalivisas@state.gov to schedule a required appointment in New Delhi.

Nonimmigrant visa appointment requests: Because there is a high demand for nonimmigrant and temporary visa appointments by residents in the New Delhi area, many interested Nepalis should be prepared to wait up to four months for an appointment. However, the embassy does note that priority appointments are available (within three weeks of contact) for those that must travel to the U.S. for urgent reasons.

These priority appointments are reserved for those needing to travel for the following reasons:

• To obtain emergency medical care, or to accompany a relative or employer for emergency medical care;

• To attend the funeral of an immediate family member (mother, father, brother, sister, child, grandparent or grandchild);

• To attend to an urgent business matter where the travel requirement could not be predicted in advance;

• Students or exchange visitors who are within 30 days of their start date of a valid program and who have not been refused a visa within the last six months;

• H and L visa renewals for applicants who are already working in the U.S and are returning to their jobs.

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Thu, 27 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Releases Fact Sheet on Immigration Security Checks http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releases_fact_sheet_on_immigration_security_checks_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=706 USCIS Releases Fact Sheet on Immigration Security Checks

 

Apr 26 2006

In an effort to ease the concerns of the individuals whose immigration processing times have been exorbitantly delayed by immigration security checks, the USCIS has released a fact sheet on the topic. According to the USCIS fact sheet, the organization conducts security checks for all cases that involve either a petition or application for an immigration service or benefit. These checks are conducted to enhance national security and ensure that the immigration process is conducted with a prime focus on integrity. Security checks have again and again ruled out applicants who were involved in violent crimes, sex crimes against adults and children, drug trafficking and terrorism. While the checks do take longer than many immigrants would like them to, the USCIS reiterates the importance of the processes. For the full text of the fact sheet, visit the publication online at http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/factsheets/security_checks_42506.pdf.

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Wed, 26 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Completes International “e-Passport” Live Test http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_completes_international_%E2%80%9Ce-passport%E2%80%9D_live_test_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=707 DHS Completes International “e-Passport” Live Test

 

Apr 23 2006

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson announced important progress in the development of biometrically-enabled technologies to prevent the use of fraudulent or stolen international travel documents. DHS is testing e-Passports and e-Passport readers in anticipation of an upcoming deadline requiring all Visa Waiver travelers issued a passport after October 26, 2006, to present an e-Passport to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The use of the new e-Passports and deployment of e-Passport readers to U.S. ports of entry will help to ensure the authenticity of international travel documents and provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers with another invaluable tool for use in the border inspection process.

“We are adopting biometric, electronically-based, and secure travel documents that are tamper resistant, yet provide a very convenient way to move back and forth across our borders,” said Deputy Secretary Jackson. “We have now successfully completed e-Passport technology testing in a live environment. Working with Visa Waiver countries, we will begin to deploy these important security enhancements this year.”

The U.S. anticipates the deployment of e-Passport readers for processing VWP visitors by October 26, 2006. Recently, US-VISIT conducted a successful test of e Passports and e-Passport readers with Basic Access Control (BAC) at San Francisco International Airport. BAC enhances the security of the document and protects the privacy of the traveler by preventing the unauthorized reading, or “skimming,” of information.

The test, which was conducted between January 15, 2006, and April 15, 2006, evaluated the operational impact of reading and verifying information embedded in the e-Passports on the border inspection process. This test was a collaborative effort between the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. A total of 1,938 e-Passports were successfully processed during the test in San Francisco. A similar test was conducted in 2005 at Los Angeles International Airport.

E-Passports contain an individual’s biographic information and a digital photograph on a contactless chip embedded in the document. DHS requires that any passport issued after the October 26 deadline, and used for VWP travel to the United States, must be an e-Passport. In addition, DHS will have the capability to read and authenticate these e-Passports. The U.S. Department of State has begun issuing diplomatic e-Passports and expects to begin issuance of regular e-Passports this summer to U.S. citizens.

Travelers applying for admission under the VWP are allowed to enter the United States for up to 90 days for business or pleasure without obtaining a non-immigrant visa. Those VWP travelers that are issued a passport after October 26, 2006, must present an e-Passport. The 27 countries participating in the VWP include: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Approximately 15 million VWP travelers visit the United States annually.

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Sun, 23 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
NBC Corrects Requests for Evidence Forms Related to Affidavi http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nbc_corrects_requests_for_evidence_forms_related_to_affidavi http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=708 NBC Corrects Requests for Evidence Forms Related to Affidavits of Support

 

Apr 21 2006

The National Benefit Center (NBC) has issued numerous Requests for Evidence (RFEs) on Affidavits of Support (I-864) in cases where the sponsored immigrant’s income was utilized to officially meet the family’s income requirement. In these RFEs, the NBC mistakenly stated that income earned while the sponsored immigrant was not employment-authorized will not be eligible to be included on the I-864, even if that income was reported on a tax return.

Please note that these RFEs were not correct and the NBC is requesting individuals inform them of how these RFEs were received. However, the NBC does suggest that you answer the RFE (even though it is incorrect) to ensure your case is not automatically denied for abandonment.

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Fri, 21 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Medical Examination Form (I-163) Is Available Online http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/medical_examination_form_%28i-163%29_is_available_online_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=709 Medical Examination Form (I-163) Is Available Online

 

Apr 21 2006

We'd like to inform our clients that the USCIS has added a link on their website to Form I-693, the Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status Form. The form is available at the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The full link to the form is as follows:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/pdf/ti-03/appdx-a_693vacc.pdf

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Fri, 21 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Announces New Plan to Enforce Immigration Regulations in http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_announces_new_plan_to_enforce_immigration_regulations_in http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=710 DHS Announces New Plan to Enforce Immigration Regulations in the U.S

 

Apr 20 2006

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a new, comprehensive immigration enforcement strategy for the nation’s interior. This new strategy is the second phase of the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), the DHS’s multi-year plan to “secure America’s borders and reduce illegal migration.”

The first phase of the SBI is focused on operation aspects of controlling the nation’s borders through the addition of new personnel and technology, and the restructuring of the detention and removal system to ensure that illegal immigrants are removed from the U.S. in a quick and efficient manner.

This second phase, which was introduced this week by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), will be focused on targeting employers of illegal immigrants and immigration violators within the U.S. The primary goal of this second phase of the operation is to reverse the “tolerance of illegal employment and illegal immigration in the United States,” according to DHS.

DHS has established three primary goals to be carried out simultaneously:

• DHS will identify and remove criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and other immigration violators from the U.S.;

• DHS will work to build strong worksite enforcement and compliance programs to minimize illegal employment in country; and

• DHS will work to dismantle the criminal infrastructure that supports illegal immigration in the U.S. and throughout the world.

“Illegal immigration poses an increasing threat to our security and public safety, and hard-hitting interior enforcement will reinforce the strong stance we are taking at our borders,” said Chertoff. “With the interior enforcement strategy of the Secure Border Initiative, we will aggressively target the growing support systems that make it easier for aliens to enter the country and find work outside of the law. This department will counter the unscrupulous tactics of employers with intelligence-driven worksite enforcement actions and combat exploitation by dangerous smuggling organizations with the full force of the law.”

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Thu, 20 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Publishes Final Rule Establishing Subcategory for Some http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_final_rule_establishing_subcategory_for_some http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=711 USCIS Publishes Final Rule Establishing Subcategory for Some International Broadcasters

 

Apr 18 2006

The USCIS has published a final rule to establish procedures under which the International Broadcasting Bureau of the United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), or a grantee organization, can file immigration visa petitions for foreign language alien broadcasters. This rule delineates the requirements that these broadcasters must meet in order to be eligible for such a visa.

In 2000, President Clinton had signed the Special Immigrant Status For Certain United States International Broadcasting Employees Act (IBE Act); section 1 of that act added content that established a special fourth preference employment-based immigrant category for immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. to work as broadcasters with the BBG or a grantee of the BBG.

According to the USCIS: “By creating a new special EB-4 subcategory, the IBE Act allows the BBG and its grantees to directly petition for alien broadcasters. Being able to offer immigrant status to an alien broadcaster and his or her spouse and children may assist the BBG in fulfilling its obligation as the international broadcasting conduit for the United States Government.”

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Tue, 18 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Great American Boycott Planned for May 1 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/great_american_boycott_planned_for_may_1_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=712 Great American Boycott Planned for May 1

 

Apr 13 2006

The recent massive demonstrations throughout the country have empowered immigrants and undocumented workers in this country and these populations have promised to held more rallies in the near future.

Monday’s “National Day of Action” saw hundreds of thousands of protesters in cities throughout the United States from individuals that have traditionally stayed silent and hidden in the shadows of American culture.

Organizers are currently planning a “Great American Boycott” for May 1, in which illegal immigrants show their economic power. All protesters and supporters are urged by the organizers to not shop, go to school or work on that day.

Javier Rodriguez is the spokesperson for the May 1 boycott: "We are expecting that with this national boycott we will be able to further gain some respect, dignity, and improve the lot of the immigrant community," said Rodriguez. "The undocumented community (are) the people that take care of their children, the people that care of the elderly, and the sick, who serve their food, who pick their fruit and their vegetables. We are rebuilding New Orleans. ... We are everywhere.”

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Thu, 13 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Republicans in House and Senate Respond to Monday’s Rallie http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/republicans_in_house_and_senate_respond_to_monday%E2%80%99s_rallie http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=713 Republicans in House and Senate Respond to Monday’s Rallies

 

Apr 12 2006

In response to major protests throughout the U.S. this Monday, Republicans collectively decided to possibly change two major portions of the House of Representatives’ proposed immigration bill.

The House of Representatives’ bill would have turned all illegal immigrants into felons and would have made providing help to these illegal immigrants a crime. Republicans now state that neither of these were their original intent.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R- TN) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) issued a joint statement Tuesday that said: “It remains our intent to produce a strong border security bill that will not make unlawful presence in the United States a felony." Republicans then said that their original intent was to make illegal presence in the U.S. a misdemeanor, but Democrats in the House had shifted the punishment to a felony. In addition, Republicans blamed Democrats for the stalling of a compromise bill in the Senate.

However, in response to these accusations, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) said, “Actions speak louder than words, and there's no running away from the fact that the Republican House passed a bill and Senator Frist offered one that criminalizes immigrants …. Millions of people have made their voices heard in support of a comprehensive immigration reform plan and now it is time for action, not empty rhetoric.”

The protests and rallies held throughout the country this Monday are a reminder of the importance of real and meaningful immigration reform that respects the dignity of all our fellow global citizens. Hopefully, the Republicans and Democrats can move past in-fighting and start moving toward a real solution in the coming weeks.

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Wed, 12 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate May Have a Compromise Immigration Bill http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_may_have_a_compromise_immigration_bill_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=714 Senate May Have a Compromise Immigration Bill

 

Apr 6 2006

It appears that the U.S. Senate is coming close to breaking the stalemate on immigration reform that has held them up for the past few weeks. A recently proposed compromise bill would adopt a more restrictive approach to the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. than originally proposed in the McCain/Kennedy bill. The compromise bill, which was proposed by Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Mel Martinez (R-FL), would split the 11 million illegal immigrants into 3 different groups and each would have their own path to legal status.

In the compromise bill, illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for more than 5 years (roughly 2/3 of the total illegal population) would be able to become legal residents of the U.S. without having to leave the country, as long as they met eight requirements, including speaking English, having worked in the U.S. for at least 3 of the last 5 years and having paid all federal and state taxes during their illegal residency.

Illegal immigrants in the U.S. for between 2 and 5 years would be able to obtain a temporary work visa, but would have to leave the U.S. to obtain that visa. These immigrants would be able to apply for legal status later and would have priority over other immigrants applying for green cards.

Finally, illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for less than 2 years would have to return to their home country and apply for a temporary work visa.

Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) believes the compromise proposal is a “negotiated middle ground … put on the table which says that these 11 million people who are here, undocumented people, illegal immigrants, are not a monolithic group.”

Many in the Senate are worried that if a bill is not passed by the end of the week, it could cause further disenchantment in the U.S. Hispanic community. There have already been numerous major protests and rallies in the country and tens of thousands of high school students have walked out of their classes in response to anti-immigration sentiments in the U.S. government. More than 500,000 people protested in Los Angeles last month, more than have ever protested in that city’s long history.

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Thu, 06 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reaches Cap for H-2B Visas for Second Half of FY 2006 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reaches_cap_for_h-2b_visas_for_second_half_of_fy_2006_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=715 USCIS Reaches Cap for H-2B Visas for Second Half of FY 2006

 

Apr 6 2006

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) just announced that it has reached its cap for the H-2B visa for the second half of Fiscal Year 2006. According to USCIS, April 4, 2006 is the official receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates before October 1, 2006. This final receipt date is the date on which the USCIS believes it has received enough petitions to reach its limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the second half of 2006.

Please keep in mind, however, that petitions for current and returning H-2B workers do not count toward the H-2B cap. These workers are exempt from this limitation. In order to qualify as exempt, a ‘returning worker’ must have counted against the H-2B numerical cap between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2005.

Petitions for non-returning workers received after April 4, 2006 will be rejected by the USCIS. All accepted applications will be eligible to be included in a computer-generated randomization process, by which USCIS will select the number of petitions needed to meet the cap. All unselected petitions will be rejected. USCIS will, however, continue to process all petitions filed for the following: to extend the stay of current H-2B workers; to change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay; to allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay; and to request eligible H-2B returning workers.

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Thu, 06 Apr 2006 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Immigration at the Forefront of Debates in the Senate: No Fi http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/immigration_at_the_forefront_of_debates_in_the_senate%3A_no_fi http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=716 Immigration at the Forefront of Debates in the Senate: No Final Bill Yet

 

Mar 31 2006

The last week has seen a series of heated debates in the U.S. Senate regarding major changes to the U.S. immigration system. These changes may make lasting changes to current U.S. policy that would enable numerous individuals to seek gainful employment in the U.S. In addition, proposed changes would effect the enforcement of immigration law in the U.S. These debates surround the Kennedy/McCain Bill, that was proposed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in late March of this year which contains numerous measures that are favorable to immigration and immigrants.

It is important to note, however, that these proposed measures are still at an early stage in the legislative process. The amendments will first go through a series of discussions on the Senate floor, in which the Senate as a whole will decide which (if any) of these amendments will be included in the final version of the Kennedy/McCain Bill. If the bill then passes the Senate, it will need to be processed through the House of Representatives. The House has already passed an immigration bill that was focused only on enforcement of issues (and was quite anti-immigrant in content). A House Conference Committee will have to be convened to discuss the Senate’s Bill. The House and the Senate will then need to approve the finalized bill before it can be sent to the President to be signed into law.

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Fri, 31 Mar 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS ISSUES H-1B FILING GUIDANCE http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_issues_h-1b_filing_guidance_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=717 USCIS ISSUES H-1B FILING GUIDANCE

 

Mar 24 2006

Employers may begin filing petitions for FY 2007 on April 1st

Washington, D.C.– USCIS will begin accepting filings for the FY2007 H-1B cap on April 1, 2006. In anticipation of this event, USCIS is reminding the public of important regulatory requirements. H-1B petitioners should keep this emphasis in mind as they prepare petitions in order to avoid delays in processing and possible Requests For Evidence (RFE).

8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(B) requires that petitioners provide a detailed itinerary of the dates and places where work will be performed if those services will be provided in more than one location. For example, a labor contractor or consultant who hires H-1B workers to work at client sites must provide in advance an itinerary with dates and places where the worker will perform that work.

In addition, 8 CFR 214.1(c)(4) requires that an applicant for extension of status have maintained his or her nonimmigrant status. In situations in which an H-1B worker is changing to an employer other than the one for which the initial H-1B petition was approved, USCIS will require that the worker changing employers demonstrate that he or she actually did perform work for the original petitioning employer for a significant length of time. In situations in which the H-1B worker is processing abroad, USCIS will work closely with the Department of State to ensure that this same level of integrity is applied to consular processed H-1Bs.

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Fri, 24 Mar 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Newly Proposed Immigration Bill Would Provide for 115,000 H- http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/newly_proposed_immigration_bill_would_provide_for_115%2C000_h- http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=718 Newly Proposed Immigration Bill Would Provide for 115,000 H-1B Visas Per Year

 

Mar 12 2006

Buried within a massive immigration bill proposed by the Senate are a few provisions that would double the number of visas available for H-1B skilled temporary workers to 115,000 per year. In addition, the provisions would raise that cap an additional 20 percent each year.

These provisions, supported strongly by immigration lawyers, Silicon Valley tech companies and numerous senators, both Republican and Democrat, are especially relevant in a global economy where the U.S. is competing against numerous nations. Many are concerned that this country may lose its lead in technology and re-opening the doors to these skilled experts in science, math, technology and engineering would strengthen the Americans’ position in the global economy.

In the heyday of the dot com boom, H-1B visas were essential components of the growing IT economy and maxed out at nearly 200,000 visas per year. However, the combination of the bust and post-September 11 changes in U.S. perceptions of internationals led to a massive decrease in proffered H-1B visas; the current yearly cap is 65,000.

The newly proposed provisions are part of a highly controversial 300 page bill proposed by Arlen Specter (R-PA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill is currently being rewritten by the committee; committee members hope it will be put to a Senate vote by the end of this month.

Other relevant provisions in the bill include a new F-4 visa category for students engaged in advanced degrees in science, math, technology or engineering. These F-4 students would be able to receive permanent residence if they find a job in their specialty and pay a $1,000 fee that would support scholarships and training for U.S. workers.

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Sun, 12 Mar 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Deeply Divided Over Immigration Issues http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_deeply_divided_over_immigration_issues_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=719 Senate Deeply Divided Over Immigration Issues

 

Mar 3 2006

The Senate began its debate on recently proposed overhauls of immigration laws yesterday and, from the start, senators were deeply divided on the core issues.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voiced widely disparate views on issues such as the guest worker program, enforcement of border security management of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the lead representative on the committee stated that he saw “virtually no agreement on anything. Specter's bill, which provides for heavy enforcement of the borders is considered controversial on both sides of the spectrum. In Specter’s proposal, workers would be allowed to come to the U.S. for up to six years, but would not be able to apply for citizenship.

A competing bill, introduced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) would provide for a guest worker program that, alternatively, would allow such workers to eventually gain citizenship. In addition the McCain-Kennedy bill would create a path by which the 11 million undocumented workers currently in the U.S. could obtain citizenship as long as they met particular requirements and paid all fines and back taxes.

"The choice is to legalize them or leave them in the shadows," said Kennedy of the illegal immigrants. Without a possibility of citizenship, Kennedy said, there would be no incentive for illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows. "Only legalizing them will work,” said Kennedy.

But Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) disagreed with Kennedy’s theory. “If we go forward with a guest worker program, we’ll have a much worse problem,” said Grassley. Such a program, according to Grassley, would only provide incentive for more undocumented immigrants to enter the U.S. and add to the burden of already struggling government agencies and programs.

Diane Feinstein (D-CA) proposed a more simple and modified version of the guest worker program, which would provide 300,000 jobs a year for three years for the agriculture industry. However, many other Senators voiced their opinion that even a limited program would be unwanted and, instead, stated that they were interested in first securing the nation’s borders.

Clearly, this debate will be heated and long-lasting. Hopefully, the citizens of this nation will share their opinions with their Senators so that the national representatives can truly represent the desires of their populace. And hopefully, the Senate will find a reasonable and supportive compromise to this essential issue.

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Fri, 03 Mar 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Suggested Method to Request Duplicate Approved Labor Certifi http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/suggested_method_to_request_duplicate_approved_labor_certifi http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=720 Suggested Method to Request Duplicate Approved Labor Certification

 

Mar 1 2006

The American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA) recently released suggestions for requesting duplicate approved labor certifications for I-140 filings. Applicants and their representatives should, when requesting these duplicates, include on the top of the I-140 document a cover sheet (ideally on colored paper) that provides the following information:

1. Attorney name;
2. Petitioner's name;
3. Beneficiary's name;
4. ETA case number;
5. Priority Date;
6. Which form the case was filed on (ETA-750 or ETA-9089);
7. A print screen showing that the case has been certified.
8. The reason for requesting a duplicate certificate

Please note that the USCIS is not able to establish a specific priority date until they receive the duplicate approved labor certification from the Department of Labor. Because of this, concurrent filing is not permitted in these instances. Individuals who do file concurrently will have both the I-140 petition and the I-485 application rejected.

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Wed, 01 Mar 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Government Official Introduces Western Hemisphere Travel Ini http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/government_official_introduces_western_hemisphere_travel_ini http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=721 Government Official Introduces Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

 

Feb 28 2006

In a press briefing last year, Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty discussed the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), a joint effort of the U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Bermudan governments to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the U.S. by legitimate travelers. In addition, the initiative will also attempt to reduce the market in stolen documents and minimize passport identity theft. The WHTI, which was mandated by Congress last year, will require all citizens of the above-stated nations to have a passport or other accepted secure travel document available when entering the U.S., as of January 1, 2008.

As part of the initiative, there will be registered traveler type programs that will speed the process of entry for those that have been previously screened and those that live in border communities. As of 2008, all U.S. citizens entering (and returning from) Canada, Bermuda and Mexico will be required to have passports or other acceptable documents to leave and return to the U.S. In addition, certain foreign nationals currently not required to have such documentation (e.g.: Canadian and Bermudan citizens) will be also required to present passports or other acceptable documentation to enter the U.S.

According to Harty, the initiative will be implemented in three phases:

“Phase One will be implemented by December 31, 2005 - that's this December - and will affect United States citizens, Canadian citizens and citizens of Bermuda traveling to the United States by air or sea from countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America. That's phase one.

Phase Two will be implemented one year later, by December 31, 2006, and will expand the requirement to all travel -- to all travel to the United States from anywhere within the Western Hemisphere by air or sea, including travel from Canada and Mexico.

Phase Three will be implemented before the statutory deadline of January 1, 2008, and will institute the new travel document requirements at all air and sea and land border ports of entry.”

While the initiative may provide more strict borders, it sends a mixed message to the U.S. citizenship. Requiring such documentation to citizens of this country when leaving and returning to the U.S. may add a new layer isolationism to this nation’s immigration system and will assuredly slow down the process of travel for all.

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Tue, 28 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
British Airlines Implements Online Advanced Passenger Inform http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/british_airlines_implements_online_advanced_passenger_inform http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=722 British Airlines Implements Online Advanced Passenger Information System

 

Feb 22 2006

The chief executive officer of British Airways, Willie Walsh, last week strongly suggested that all those traveling to the U.S.on the British airline should fill in their immigration information online at ba.com prior to coming to the airport in order to minimize possible delays.

British Airways has implemented these new procedures in direct response to new U.S.legislation requiring additional passenger information from all airlines for non-U.S. passport holders entering the U.S.This additional information includes information about non-U.S. residents’ country of residence and first night destination address, along with information found on those individuals’ passports.

While this information can be provided at the airport (or via a travel agent), British Airlines’ Walsh believes the online process will ensure the most speedy process for travelers. “The U.S.is our biggest single market,” said Walsh in a speech last week to the Guild of Travel Management Companies in London. “We have 38 flights a day there from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester…. The last thing we want and certainly the last thing our customers want is long delays at check-in.”

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Wed, 22 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Bush and Mexican President Discuss Immigration Issues http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bush_and_mexican_president_discuss_immigration_issues_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=723 Bush and Mexican President Discuss Immigration Issues

 

Feb 20 2006

This week, U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox spoke to each other about how the two countries could collectively improve border security and minimize the level of violence that occurs along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Primarily, they talked about the increased border violence, and the two leaders talked about the importance of working together to improve our border security and stop the violence," said Bush spokesman Scott McClellan.

Bush also gave an update to Fox on the Guest Worker Program and, according to McClellan, informed the Mexican president that he would continue to push for the nonimmigrant visa program.

In addition, according to McClellan, "they also talked about the security and prosperity partnership that was developed by Canada, Mexico and the United States, and talked about the possibility of meeting soon on that initiative.”

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Mon, 20 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Immigration Changes Make It Easier to Hire, Retain Foreign N http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/immigration_changes_make_it_easier_to_hire%2C_retain_foreign_n http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=724 Immigration Changes Make It Easier to Hire, Retain Foreign Nationals

 

Feb 20 2006

By Joel Seguine
Office of the Vice President for Communications

A number of changes are under way within the International Center (IC) designed to streamline immigration processes for international faculty and staff, and more are planned. The actions respond to task force recommendations issued during the summer.

The University's Task Force on Faculty and Staff Immigration Services, chaired by Liz Barry, managing director of the Life Sciences Institute, undertook a comprehensive review of immigration services pertaining to hiring and retaining foreign nationals as faculty and staff. The task force report issued in June includes 12 recommendations comprising policies, practices and infrastructure designed to upgrade the IC's immigration services in the post-9/11 environment.

The task force provided a great service to the IC and the University, says E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs, who oversees the center and who initiated the task force.

"Our ability to hire and retain the best foreign talent is under pressure from recent trends and we must put ourselves in the best position to compete for and welcome these individuals into our midst," Harper says. "Making the navigation of immigration procedures more transparent and efficient will make us more competitive in attracting outstanding international faculty and researchers, as well as students."

As the task force formed its recommendations, certain core values and guiding principles emerged, Barry says.

"One of the keys was the idea that the institution's core value of promoting international education and collaboration is best served by the University adopting uniform policies and procedures for hiring foreign nationals, ensuring strict compliance with them and providing the resources necessary for efficient implementation," she says.

The first policy change will be implemented Oct. 3 when legal counsel retained by the University will be available to provide a subset of services on behalf of the University with regard to certain employment-based immigration petitions, Assistant General Counsel Donica Varner says. As of that date, all new immigration petitions for which U-M is the petitioner must be prepared by either Faculty and Staff Immigration Services (FSIS) staff or one of the five firms retained by the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel (OGC) to provide immigration services.

"Previously, individuals or their campus units often hired counsel themselves. Since these attorneys were actually performing legal work on behalf of the University, the task force believed the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel should be responsible for selection, retention and supervision of outside counsel," Varner says.

When legal counsel is deemed necessary, the new policy makes the hiring unit responsible for payment of legal fees, administrative costs, filing fees and recruitment costs. Foreign national faculty and staff members no longer will be permitted to retain legal counsel to represent the University in immigration matters. Similarly, hiring units may only work with a law firm that has been approved by and retained by the OGC.

Varner says the firms were selected based on their familiarity with higher education institutions; successful experience with the University; foreign language skills of staff; and ability to handle significant workload in a timely fashion; among other criteria. The names of the firms and details about the policy are available at http://www.ogc.umich.edu.

Another change already benefiting international faculty, staff and students is the administrative move in July by the IC—with the help of Michigan Administrative Information Services—of the International Student/Scholar Health Insurance Plan from a standalone database to M-Pathways, according to Louise Baldwin, assistant director of IC. "This move was the first step of a three-part project that, when completed, will greatly reduce the number of paper insurance forms international students and scholars are required to submit, and will reduce the need for in-person visits to the IC that are related to health insurance," Baldwin says.

Another recommendation involving the upgrade of digital infrastructure and streamlining of business processes resulted in an ongoing pilot project with several academic units. The project will test software called INSZoom, which allows FSIS to provide many of its services more efficiently, especially the processing of H-1B (temporary employment) petitions, according to Meghan Covino, FSIS manager.

"The software allows departments and employees to log-in any time to check the status of their petitions. Departments also can run reports tracking information such as the number of employees they have in H-1B status which countries they are from," Covino says. Following the pilot, campus-wide use of the software and new processes is scheduled for Winter Term.

The task force recommendations have been incorporated into a formal project to update and improve the services of IC for all clients, including international students and departmental staff who rely so much on the services of the center, Harper says. "We also conducted a thorough internal process review and are benefiting from an additional study done by an external consultant," she adds.

Dean of Students Susan Eklund, who oversees the project, says staff from academic and administrative units will participate in focus groups to ensure that new and updated policies and processes meet their needs. "We'll be rolling out improvements on a gradual basis over the next 12 to 18 months. The first recommendation we implemented was bringing the technical infrastructure of the International Center to a more current state for Director Rodolfo Altamirano and his staff," Eklund says.

Altamirano says that with all of the changes, his staff will put a strong emphasis on educational outreach. "We want to keep those who use and need our services well informed about the changes and improvements we're making," he says.

The task force report and detailed information about the IC and its services is available at http://www.umich.edu/~icenter/.  

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Mon, 20 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Atlanta National Processing Center Clarifies Filing Periods http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/atlanta_national_processing_center_clarifies_filing_periods_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=725 Atlanta National Processing Center Clarifies Filing Periods for PERM Labor Certification Cases

 

Feb 17 2006

The Department of Labor’s national processing center in Atlanta (Atlanta NPC) stated that employers may file a PERM labor certification case after the prevailing wage determination validity period has ended. After this point, the employer can either file the PERM application or start the required recruitment within the validity period of the prevailing wage determination.

Validity periods of prevailing wage determinations that are issued by a State Workforce Agency ranges from 90 days to one year. Because employers can either file or begin the recruitment process during that period, cases where recruitment started during this validity period can be filed after the completion of the validity period.

This clarification of the regulations will ease the procedures for many employers, enabling a more smooth recruitment process.

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Fri, 17 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS to Require Employee Immigration Status Verification http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_to_require_employee_immigration_status_verification_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=726 DHS to Require Employee Immigration Status Verification

 

Feb 17 2006

It appears that employers may have to conduct additional employee verifications in the near future. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2007 states that employers will soon be required to check the immigration status of all workers. While employers currently are required to check proposed employees’ I-9 documents, they are not yet required to verify the authenticity of those documents. However, in the near future, I-9 documents will need to be verified prior to offering gainful employment to the proposed employee.

Currently in operation is a voluntary check system through which an employer may verify the immigration status of a proposed employee. This system is now in pilot stage, but, according to the DHS FY 2007 budget, will be a required process.

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Fri, 17 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
11 Countries Plan to Lobby Against U.S. Immigration Law http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/11_countries_plan_to_lobby_against_u.s._immigration_law_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=727 11 Countries Plan to Lobby Against U.S. Immigration Law

 

Feb 15 2006

Source: miamiherald.com February 15th, 2006.

CARTAGENA, Colombia - Latin American diplomats teamed up Monday to lobby Washington against a tough immigration plan that would include a large wall along the Mexico-U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants.

Foreign ministers from 11 Latin American countries gathered in the seaside resort city of Cartagena, where they decided to send a scouting mission to Washington next week to identify key U.S. lawmakers on the immigration debate, Salvadoran Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez announced.

The region will urge those lawmakers in coming weeks to change or defeat altogether a bill making its way through the U.S. Congress that would make it harder for undocumented immigrants to get jobs and would authorize construction of a fence along parts of the 2,000-mile Mexico-U.S. border.

Carolina Barco, Colombia's foreign minister, said immigrants' contribution to U.S. development ``has been fundamental . . . but due to Sept. 11, the pendulum seems to have shifted in the opposite direction and migration is looked upon with a distrusting eye.''

''The point we have made with clarity is that [the border wall] doesn't seem to us to be the solution,'' said Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez.

The countries meeting in Cartagena -- Mexico, Central American nations, Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic -- met in January in Mexico City to discuss the same issue, demanding the United States to implement guest-worker programs and legalize undocumented migrants. At that meeting, they also condemned proposals for tougher border enforcement.

The U.S. House of Representatives already approved the bill in December, and the Senate will consider a version of the law next month.

Authorities estimate there are about 11 million undocumented migrants in the United States, the majority of them coming from Latin America -- mostly Mexico, but also countries as far away as Colombia and Ecuador.

These workers have come to play an important part in Latin American economies, sending billions of dollars home to their families each year.

Separately, Mexican lawmakers announced Sunday they were sending a congressional delegation to Washington this week to push for a migration accord and lobby against the border wall.

The foreign ministers plan to meet again in March, Barco said.

The one-day meeting was being held in Cartagena's Convention Center, just a few yards away from elaborate, thick walls that encircle Cartagena's old town. The walls, thicker than the length of a car and topped by cannons, were built in the 16th century to protect this Caribbean port city from marauding pirates and other foreign intruders.

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Wed, 15 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Republican Party Officially Endorses Guest Worker Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/republican_party_officially_endorses_guest_worker_program_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=728 Republican Party Officially Endorses Guest Worker Program

 

Feb 9 2006

In late January, the Republican Party officially endorsed a Guest Worker Program to provide a means for a higher amount of foreigners to temporarily work legally in the U.S. This is good news for advocates of the Guest Worker Program; if the Republican National Committee had not supported this legislative measure backed by President Bush, the program would not have any chance for success.

Republican representatives, responding to an LA Times interview, stated that taking any hard-lined positional against immigrants would largely alienate the Latino vote, which was quite supportive of Bush and Republican candidates in the 2004 election.

Hopefully, the Republicans’ interest in promoting strong relationships and ties with the U.S.-based Latino population will ensure the Guest Worker Program becomes law in the near future.

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Thu, 09 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
President Bush Calls for More H-1B Visas http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/president_bush_calls_for_more_h-1b_visas_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=729 President Bush Calls for More H-1B Visas

 

Feb 6 2006

Earlier this month, President Bush called for a raise to the current H-1B visa cap at the 3M Corporate Headquarters. As part of his American Competitiveness Initiative, Bush emphasized the importance of creating a national culture that supported the inclusion of exceptional international workers. The following is an excerpt from President Bush’s speech:

"Now, in the meantime, there's another issue that I want to discuss right quick. . . . There are more high-tech jobs in America today than people available to fill them. And if that's -- so what do we do about that? And the reason it's important, and the American citizen has got to understand it's important, is if we don't do something about how to fill those high-tech jobs here, they'll go somewhere else where somebody can do the job. In other words, there are some who say, we can't worry about competition. It doesn't matter, it's here. Don't worry about it, do something about it. It's a real aspect of the world in which we live.

And so one way to deal with this problem, and probably the most effective way, is to recognize that there's a lot of bright engineers and chemists and physicists from other lands that are either educated here, or received an education elsewhere but want to work here. And they come here under a program called H1B visas. And the problem is, is that Congress has limited the number of H1B visas that can come and apply for a job -- a H1B visa holder can apply for a job at 3M. I think it's a mistake not to encourage more really bright folks who can fill the jobs that are having trouble being filled here in America -- to limit their number. And so I call upon Congress to be realistic and reasonable and raise that cap.

We'll educate our kids. That's the goal. Of course, we want every job that's ever generated in America filled by Americans, but that's not the reality today. In order for 3M to remain competitive, in order for this job base to remain strong, in order for us to be a leader in innovation, we got to be wise about letting kids come here who've got the skill sets needed to fill the jobs that help us remain the leader in the world."

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Mon, 06 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
President Bush Calls for Guest Worker Program in this Week http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/president_bush_calls_for_guest_worker_program_in_this_week http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=730 President Bush Calls for Guest Worker Program in this Week’s State of the Union Address

 

Feb 2 2006

Keeping in tune with his strong support for creating a humane system to incorporate the multitude of illegal immigrants currently engaged in employment in the U.S., President Bush called for the House to support his Guest Worker program in the coming year. In his address, Bush said:

"Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our Nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty … allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally … and reduces smuggling and crime at the border."

The Democrats' official response to President Bush's proposed immigration changes were as follows:

"The failure of the federal government to implement and enforce a rational immigration policy has resulted in a confusing patchwork of state and local efforts. We should welcome those who seek to lawfully join and contribute to our American family. At the same time, we must ensure that our homeland defense efforts begin with consistent federal action to protect our borders."

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Thu, 02 Feb 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Extends Policy that Lengthens Validity of Green Card M http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_extends_policy_that_lengthens_validity_of_green_card_m http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=731 USCIS Extends Policy that Lengthens Validity of Green Card Medical Examination Certificate

 

Jan 27 2006

The USCIS has extended the policy that lengthened the time of validity for a green card medical examination. The original extension validated the civil surgeon's certification on the medical examination for the entire time that it takes to adjudicate the applicant's Form I-485, the Application for Adjustment of Status. This extension was and is only applicable to individuals whose medical examinations do NOT show medical conditions under Class A or B.

The original policy was issued in December, 2004 and was effective through January 1, 2006. The policy has been extended until January 1, 2007. This continuation of the extension is of prime importance to many applicants, especially those in employment-based visa categories. Adjustment of status, in many cases, can remain in adjudication for years and extending the validity of the medical examination eases the process for both the applicant and the government.

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Fri, 27 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS Comments on Employment-Based Visa Number Cut-Off Dates http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dos_comments_on_employment-based_visa_number_cut-off_dates_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=732 Department of State Comments on Employment-Based Visa Number Cut-Off Dates

 

Jan 26 2006

The Department of State (DOS) has noted that it has seen a decrease in the demand for employment-based visa numbers for adjustment of status cases. DOS believes that this has led to a rapid advancement of the established cut-off dates for these visas. DOS is concerned that there may been an exorbitant amount of numbers available late in the fiscal year, but not enough time for individuals to utilize these numbers.

DOS's believes that there will be no need to impose a cut-off date for the First and Second preference categories, based on the current level of number use in those categories. DOS is a bit concerned about the Third preference category, based on the amount of 245(i) filings that were submitted in March and April of 2001; however, it has not yet led to any major concerns.

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Thu, 26 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DOS on Foreign Students and Extended Breaks from School http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_on_foreign_students_and_extended_breaks_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=733 Department of State on Foreign Students and Extended Breaks from School

 

Jan 19 2006

The Department of State (DOS) recently released a telegram clarifying regulations regarding breaks in studies for foreign nationals attending a school here in the U.S. under the F-1 or M-1 visa. According to DOS, there are two situations in which a student's visa would automatically be invalidated after a break in studies that lasted more than five months:

1) Students who are not studying, but remain in theU.S.

Individuals admitted to the U.S. under F-1 or M-1 status who are transferring between schools/educational programs are NOT considered to be in student status if classes are not resumed within five months of either he date they transferred out of the previous educational program or the date of program completion. In order to remain in legal status, such students should apply for a reinstatement of the F-1 or M-1 visa with the USCIS. Please note that students may pursue studies during this reinstatement process.

If the USCIS approves and restores the student's status, their F-1/M-1 visa will again be valid, as long as the visa has not expired. However, if the USCIS denies reinstatement of student status, the student will have immediately lost F-1/M-1 status and any visa that was valid would be considered invalid at that point. Such a student must then immediately depart the U.S.

Please note that students who were denied reinstatement of status are not barred from applying for and receiving a new student visa; however, consular officers are informed of the original denial and will most likely investigate the issues surrounding that denial of status.

2) Students who leave the U.S. while in valid student status

It is quite common for foreign nationals enrolled in schools in the U.S. to take breaks in their studies and return to their home country for a semester or longer. However, the F-1 and M-1 visas of students that have been out of the U.S. for more than five months are no longer valid. According to immigration regulations, students' F-1 and M-1 visas are subject to cancellation after an absence of more than five months. Students who return to the U.S. prior to the five-month point, however, should be readmitted to the U.S. after presenting a valid I-20 card.

Students who wish to resume their studies in the U.S. will be required to obtain a new visa. These students should either obtain a new I-20 from the school or verify that their previous I-20 is valid and their SEVIS record is in active status prior to applying for a new F-1 or M-1 visa.

Students who received approval from their schools to take an extended break are required to have their SEVIS record terminated for Authorized Withdrawal. These students, when ready to return to their studies, will receive a new initial I-2 from their school with a new SEVIS number. These students will be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

In some instances, certain students will leave the U.S. for extended periods of time to conduct active school-related research, such as field research. Schools should maintain these students' status and their SEVIS numbers will remain active. Even though they may be out of the U.S. for more than five months, these students' visas will not be considered invalid after that five-month period.

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Thu, 19 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reaches H-1B Exemption Cap for FY 2006 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reaches_h-1b_exemption_cap_for_fiscal_year_2006_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=734 USCIS Reaches H-1B Exemption Cap for FY 2006

 

Jan 18 2006

20,000 Slots Reserved for Aliens with U.S.-Earned Master’s Degrees or Higher Exhausted

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received enough H-1B petitions that qualify for the exemption from the H-1B numerical limitations for foreign workers with a U.S.-earned master’s or higher degree (the number of aliens exempted from the H-1B cap on this basis may not exceed 20,000 per fiscal year). Consequently, USCIS has determined that the “final receipt date” for these 20,000 cap-exempt H-1B petitions is January 17, 2006. Petitions received on January 17th are subject to the random selection process described below. USCIS will reject petitions requesting a foreign worker with a U.S.-earned master’s or higher degree that are received after the “final receipt date” unless the petitioner or beneficiary is eligible for a separate cap exemption.

USCIS has implemented the following procedure for H-1B filings for FY 2006 in accordance with the procedures announced in 70 FR 23775 (Allocation of Additional H-1B Visas Created by the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004):

Ÿ USCIS has closely monitored FY 2006 H-1B filings for foreign workers with a U.S.-earned master’s or higher degree and used projections to determine the number of petitions necessary to reach the congressionally mandated cap exemption of 20,000.

Ÿ Having determined that a sufficient number of petitions have been received, USCIS will identify all H-1B petitions seeking an FY 2006 number that were received on the day USCIS received the number of petitions necessary to meet the 20,000 cap exemption (“final receipt date”).

Ÿ For petitions received on the “final receipt date,” USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process. This process will randomly select the exact number of petitions from the day’s receipts needed to meet the congressionally mandated cap exemption of 20,000.

Ÿ After random selection, any remaining H-1B petitions for foreign workers with a U.S.-earned master’s or higher degree that do not receive an FY 2006 number and are not otherwise exempt will be rejected and returned along with the filing fee(s).

Ÿ Petitioners may re-submit their petitions when H-1B visas become available for FY 2007.

Ÿ The earliest date for which a petitioner may file a petition requesting FY 2007 H-1B employment with an employment start date of October 1, 2006, is April 1, 2006.

Petitions for current H-1B workers do not count towards the congressionally mandated H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

Ÿ Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States.

Ÿ Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers.

Ÿ Allow current H-1B workers to change employers.

Ÿ Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

USCIS also notes that petitions for new H-1B employment are exempt from the annual cap if the alien will be employed at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, or at a nonprofit research organization or a governmental research organization.

The H-1B visa program is utilized by some U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in a specialized field, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. As part of the H-1B program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires U.S. employers to meet specific labor conditions to ensure that American workers are not adversely impacted, while the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division safeguards the treatment and compensation of H-1B workers.

USCIS received enough H-1B petitions to meet the general population H-1B cap of 58,200 (congressional cap of 65,000 less 6,800 set aside for workers from Singapore and Chile by the Free Trade Act) for fiscal year 2006 on August 10, 2005. Those cap numbers do not include the 20,000 exempt foreign workers with a U.S.-earned master’s or higher degree. More information about the H-1B program and about USCIS is available at www.uscis.gov.

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Wed, 18 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Vermont Service Center Mistakenly Rejects 100 I-140 Petition http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/vermont_service_center_mistakenly_rejects_100_i-140_petition http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=735 Vermont Service Center Mistakenly Rejects 100 I-140 Petitions

 

Jan 13 2006

Workers at the Vermont Service Center (VSC) mistakenly rejected roughly 100 1-140 petitions for immigrant workers to become permanent residents of the U.S. These petitions were rejected because they were filed with PERM Labor Certification Approvals (LCA) printed on blue paper. The workers at the VSC, who did not recognize the blue paper, were apparently unaware of required change to blue paper for LCAs.

The Vermont Center has issued specific guidelines for resubmission of these I-140 petitions. Applicants should resubmit the petitions with a colored coversheet that includes the following text in large letters: “Attention: CRU Supervisor” and “Case Improperly Rejected”. It does not matter what color the coversheet is. These petitions should be sent to a separate P.O. Box.

Only I-140 petitions erroneously rejected may be resubmitted. Applicants should also submit a letter explaining why the case was rejected. Hopefully, the VSC will be able to judiciously adjudicate these cases, and this error by VSC workers will not drastically affect too many applicants. Please keep in mind that our firm is here to help all of our clients with this or any other legal issue.

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Fri, 13 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Clarification of Home Residence Requirement for EU Nationals http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/clarification_of_home_residence_requirement_for_eu_nationals http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=736 Clarification of Home Residence Requirement for EU Nationals Under J Visa

 

Jan 13 2006

The Visa Office has recently clarified information regarding the home residence requirement of the J visa. According to the Visa Office, European Union (EU) nationals in the U.S. under the J visa category are NOT allowed to fulfill their two-year home-country residence requirement in any EU country, as previously believed by some J visa holders. This residence requirement must be fulfilled in their country of nationality or legal residence.

According to the Visa Office: "Since the INA requires two years in the individual's country of nationality or legal residence, and the EU is not a country, the option of returning to any of the EU countries is not acceptable. European nationals must fulfill the two year requirement in their country of nationality or legal residence."

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Fri, 13 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Nearing Cap for Advanced Degree H-1B Visas http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_nearing_cap_for_advanced_degree_h-1b_visas_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=737 USCIS Nearing Cap for Advanced Degree H-1B Visas

 

Jan 11 2006

As of January 10, 19,622 visa applications have been received for the H-1B Advanced Degree Exemption for Fiscal Year 2006. The cap for this exemption is 20,000, leaving only 378 additional visas available under this category. The cap has already been reached for both traditional H-1B visas (FY 06) and H-2B visas (1st half of FY 06). Less than 500 visas are available for H-2B visas for the entire year.

Please see the table below for additional details.

 
  H-1B
(FY 06)
  H-1B Advance Degree Exemption
(FY 06)
  H-2B 1st Half
(FY 06)
  H-2B
2nd Half
(FY 06)
  H-2B
FY 06

Cap 
  58,200
  20,000
  33,000
  33,000
  66,000

Beneficiaries Approved
  ------
  17,306
  ------
  2,304
  50,309

Beneficiaries Pending
  ------
  2,316
  ------
  6,310
  9,199

 Total
  Cap Reached
  19,622
  Cap Reached
  8,614
  59,508

 Date of Last Count
 8/10/2005
 1/10/2006
 12/15/2005
 1/11/2006
 1/11/2006

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Wed, 11 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
LCA Form for H-1B and H-1B1 Visas Must be Submitted Online http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/lca_form_for_h-1b_and_h-1b1_visas_must_be_submitted_online_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=738 LCA Form for H-1B and H-1B1 Visas Must be Submitted Online

 

Jan 10 2006

Last week, the Department of Labor (DOL) released an email reminder that, as of January 4, 2006, employers are required to file the electronic Labor Condition Application (LCA), Form ETA 9035E, online at http://www.lca.doleta.gov for all H-1B and H-1B1 visas. Employers may mail-in this application only in limited circumstances.

DOL has also added the option of submitting the LCA for the E-3 visa at the same website. While employers may still mail-in the application for this visa, they now have the option of submitting it electronically.

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Tue, 10 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Rep. Sensenbrenner Introduces "Border Protection" Bill to Co http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/rep_sensenbrenner_introduces_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=739 Rep. Sensenbrenner Introduces "Border Protection" Bill to Congress

 

Jan 5 2006

Representative James F. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced an immigration bill to increase border protection and provide security against terrorism. H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, was introduced by Sensenbrenner today, would provide more direction to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Secretary of Defense in the following areas:

1. These Secretaries would be guided to develop a plan to increase the availability and accessibility of Department of Defense surveillance along all U.S. land and sea borders.

2. Border security vulnerabilities would be assessed at all Department of Interior land adjacent to the U.S. border.

3. Training exercises on border security information sharing would be conducted.

4. A Border Security Advisory Committee would be established.

5. A university-based center of Excellence for Border Security would be established.

Of special concern with this bill is the proposal to require the Secretary of DHS to place any alien (with the exception of those from Mexico or Canada or those who have not been admitted or paroled) into expedited removal if they are caught within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of illegally entering the U.S.

We will keep you posted on all news related to the progress of this bill in the House of Representatives.

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Thu, 05 Jan 2006 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Completes Installation of Biometric Identification Syste http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_completes_installation_of_biometric_identification_syste http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=740 DHS Completes Installation of Biometric Identification Systems at all U.S. Land Borders

 

Dec 31 2005

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has successfully completed the installation of biometric entry capability systems at 104 points of entry by land, as mandated by Congress. Biometric devices are now located at every fixed point of entry open to travelers visiting the U.S. under the US-VISIT program.

"The U.S. Government's efforts to strengthen our nation's immigration and border management system have taken a giant leap with the deployment of US-VISIT entry capabilities at all our ports and visa-issuing posts abroad," said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. "US-VISIT is making America safer by enhancing our border management system with next-generation technologies and processes to address the emerging threats, challenges and opportunities of our 21st century world."

The goal of the US-VISIT program is to enhance security at U.S. borders by verifying the identity of each visitor and by comparing the biometric and biographical information of these visitors against a watch list of terrorists, criminals and individuals that have violated immigration law.

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Sat, 31 Dec 2005 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senate Unanimously Passes the Unaccompanied Alien Child Prot http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senate_unanimously_passes_the_unaccompanied_alien_child_prot http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=741 Senate Unanimously Passes the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act

 

Dec 23 2005

Yesterday, the Senate unanimously amended and passed the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act (UACPA) of 2005. The goal of this act, which was sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), is to address inappropriate treatment of unaccompanied alien children upon arrival in the U.S. The parallel House Bill has not yet been voted upon.

Provisions in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred the care and custody of unaccompanied alien children to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the Department of Health and Human Services). The UACPA elaborates on that act by providing the following: access to guardians ‘ad litem’, alternate options for custody and detention, improved procedures to determine ages of alien children, training for immigration personnel that work with these children, a system for pro bono representation of these children, and codification of Homeland Security’s Children’s Asylum Guidelines.

We expect and hope that the House will act quickly to pass this legislation in order to ensure smooth and safe procedures for refugee children entering the U.S.

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Fri, 23 Dec 2005 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for 1st Half of FY 2006 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_reaches_h-2b_cap_for_first_half_of_fiscal_year_2006_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=742 USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for 1st Half of FY 2006

 

Dec 21 2005

Washington, D.C.- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first six months of Fiscal Year 2006 (FY 2006). USCIS is hereby notifying the public that December 15, 2005 is the "final receipt date"for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates prior to April 1, 2006. The "final receipt date" is the date on which USCIS determines that it has received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the first half of FY 2006.

USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions which are subject to the cap and were received on December 15, 2005. This process will select the number of petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected. USCIS will also reject petitions for new H-2B workers seeking employment start dates prior to April 1 st that arrive after December 15, 2005. USCIS will continue to accept petitions for new H-2B workers seeking employment start dates on or after April 1, 2006 that arrive after the "final receipt date" only if such petitions are supported by a valid temporary labor certification.

Petitions for both current and returning H-2B workers do not count towards the congressionally mandated biannual H-2B cap. "Returning workers" are exempt from H-2B cap limitations. In order to qualify, the worker must have counted against the H-2B numerical cap between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2005. Any worker not certified as a "returning worker" is subject to the numerical limitations for the relevant fiscal year. Petitions received after the "final receipt date" which contain a combination of "returning workers" and workers subject to the H-2B cap will not be rejected, and petitioning employers will receive partial approvals for those aliens who qualify as "returning workers" if otherwise approvable.

USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

• Extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the United States;

• Change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay;

• Allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay; or

• Request eligible H-2B "returning workers."

More information about the H-2B work program is available at www.uscis.gov or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

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Wed, 21 Dec 2005 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Current Cap Count for Non-Immigrant Worker Visas http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/current_cap_count_for_non-immigrant_worker_visas_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=743 Current Cap Count for Non-Immigrant Worker Visas

 

Dec 21 2005

H-1B
(FY 06)
H-1B Advance Degree Exemption
(FY 06)
H-2B 1st Half
(FY 06)
H-2B
2nd Half
(FY 06)

Cap
58,200*
20,000
33,000**
33,000

Beneficiaries Approved

------
15,420
36,451
--

Beneficiaries Pending
------
2,016
12,946
--

Total
Cap Reached
17,436
49,397
--

Date of Last Count

8/10/2005
12/9/2005
12/14/2005
--

*6,800 are set aside for the H-1B1 program under terms of the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements and to the extent unused can first be made available for general use on October 1, 2006, the start of FY 2007. **Filings will be rejected the day after the cutoff date for new filings. The cutoff date will be whenever sufficient petitions and associated worker applications have been received to satisfy the cap of 33,000 visas minus first-time beneficiaries changing status. USCIS has estimated that 62% of approved beneficiaries will actually result in H-2B visas issued by Department of State. Accordingly, USCIS will cutoff the first half cap at 52,000.

H-1B

Established by the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT), the H-1B nonimmigrant visa category allows U.S. employers to augment the existing labor force with highly skilled temporary workers. H-1B workers are admitted to the United States for an initial period of three years, which may be extended for an additional three years. The H-1B visa program is utilized by some U.S. businesses and other organizations to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in a specialized field. Typical H-1B occupations include architects, engineers, computer programmers, accountants, doctors and college professors. The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000.

H-1B Advance Degree Exemption

The H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004, which took effect on May 5, 2005, changed the H-1B filing procedures for FY 2005 and for future fiscal years. The Act also makes available 20,000 new H-1B visas for foreign workers with a master’s or higher level degree from a U.S. academic institution.

H-2B

The H-2B visa category allows U.S. employers in industries with peak load, seasonal or intermittent needs to augment their existing labor force with temporary workers. The H-2B visa category also allows U.S. employers to augment their existing labor force when necessary due to a one-time occurrence which necessitates a temporary increase in workers. Typically, H-2B workers fill labor needs in occupational areas such as construction, health care, landscaping, lumber, manufacturing, food service/processing, and resort/hospitality services.

On May 25, 2005, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting additional petitions for H-2B workers as required by the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005 (SOS Act). The SOS Act allowed USCIS to accept filings beginning May 25, 2005 for two types of H-2B workers seeking work start dates as early as immediately:

For FY 2005 and 2006: All “returning workers,” meaning workers who counted against the H-2B annual numerical limit of 66,000 during any one of the three fiscal years preceding the fiscal year of the requested start date. This means:

• In a petition for a work start date before October 1, 2005 (FY 2005), the worker must have been previously approved for an H-2B work start date between October 1, 2001 and September 30, 2004.

• In a petition for a work start date on or after October 1, 2005 (FY 2006), the worker must have been previously approved for an H-2B work start date between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2005.

If a petition was approved only for “extension of stay” in H-2B status, or only for change or addition of employers or terms of employment, the worker was not counted against the numerical limit at that time and, therefore, that particular approval cannot in itself result in the worker being considered a “returning worker” in a new petition. Any worker not certified as a “returning worker” will be subject to the numerical limitation for the relevant fiscal year.

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Wed, 21 Dec 2005 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Provision to recapture unused H-1B and EB visa numbers elimi http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/provision_to_recapture_unused_h-1b_and_eb_visa_numbers_elimi http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=744 Provision to recapture unused H-1B and EB visa numbers eliminated from Budget Reconciliation Bill

 

Dec 21 2005

On December 19, the House of Representatives approved a conference report in relation to Senate Bill 1932 that would get rid of pro-immigration provisions that were part of the original Senate version of the Bill. While the report has not yet been provided to the public, it is understood that key provisions related to immigration were eliminated from the Bill, including an original House proposal to introduce an $1,500 fee increase on L visas. In addition, provisions to recapture 30,000 H-1B visas, along with the recapturing of certain unused Employment-Based immigrant visas, were eliminated from the bill.

This conference report was then approved on December 20 by the Senate by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote. The Bill will now be returned to the House for a final vote; it is expected that the House will approve the Bill with these provisions eliminated.

This is bad news for the many individuals and businesses that were depending on additional H-1B and EB visas in the coming months, and may be quite harmful to various segments of the U.S. business population. However, the fight to recapture these visa numbers is not over, and our firm, along with immigration support groups such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association and numerous businesses, will be working hard to affect legislation in the coming months.

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Wed, 21 Dec 2005 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Immigration Reform Legislation Includes No Guest-Worker Prov http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/immigration_reform_legislation_includes_no http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=745 Immigration Reform Legislation Includes No Guest-Worker Provisions

 

Dec 15 2005

Proposed legislation that would tighten security at the nation’s borders will be put up for vote in the House of Representatives shortly. The bill includes various bundled measures and proposals to toughen penalties for employers that hire illegal and undocumented immigrant workers. In addition the bill would enable the U.S. government the ability to detain for longer periods of time any undocumented immigrant who might pose a threat to the U.S. and its citizens. The bill also includes penalties for being involved in the smuggling of immigrants, provisions for reimbursals for county sheriffs along the U.S. border and would make drunk driving a deportable offence for any undocumented immigrant.

The proposed legislation, however, is surprisingly void of any mention of President Bush’s flagship immigration measure of reform, the Guest Worker Program. This, according to House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), may be because the Republicans have not been able to come up with a clear consensus of what a guest-worker bill would say. Others, however, point to the need to provide the more conservative portion of the Republican Party with a ‘tough on immigration’ bill that they can brag to their constituents about over the holiday season.

While many members of the House have proposed numerous amendments to the proposed legislation, it appears that the more heated issues of immigration will not be addressed by the House, but will instead have to be addressed by the U.S. Senate early next year in their own immigration reform bill. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already co-sponsored a bill with bipartisan support that includes a guest-worker provision and we expect to see this issue addressed in both the public and the legislative arenas in the first quarter of 2006.

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Thu, 15 Dec 2005 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
House Judiciary Committee Approves Anti-Immigration Legislat http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/house_judiciary_committee_approves_anti-immigration_legislat http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=746 House Judiciary Committee Approves Anti-Immigration Legislature

 

Dec 9 2005

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved (23-15) the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. This enforcement-only legislation will now be voted on by the entire House of Representatives next week. The bill contains numerous anti-immigration legislations and is of great concern to us. Included in the bill are provisions that would criminalize unlawful presence, take away much of the jurisdiction power of the courts, drastically reduce the due process rights of U.S. citizens, permanent residents and aliens, expand the ability of the government to conduct expedited removals, stretch the definition of alien smuggling to include family member, employers and immigration advocates, militarize the border and increase mandatory detentions.

It is essential that the House does not approve this bill. Our firm asks that all of you contact your representative and strongly suggest that they do not support this disastrous proposal.

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Fri, 09 Dec 2005 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS to Replace 60,000 Green Cards Due to Computer Error http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_replace_60%2C000_green_cards_due_to_computer_error_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=747 USCIS to Replace 60,000 Green Cards Due to Computer Error

 

Dec 7 2005

The U.S. government has recalled over 60,000 green cards due to a computer mistake that miscalculated the residency start dates of the card recipients. Last month, USCIS contacted these recipients of asylum to inform them of the problem with the cards and to guide them to mail the cards back to USCIS.

According to USCIS officials, a replacement card will arrive roughly three weeks after USCIS receives the original green card. This situation, however, will not affect any individual's change of status in any way.

According to a USCIS official, a software change caused the problem. Individuals who try to use these original cards may run into problems when they attempt to reenter the residency dates on the card will not match those in the government's electronic system. In addition, refugees may get confused about how long to wait to apply for citizenship, due to the incorrect dates on these green cards.

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Wed, 07 Dec 2005 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Releases Total H-1B Exemption and H-2B Visas Issued So http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releases_total_h-1b_exemption_and_h-2b_visas_issued_so http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=748 USCIS Releases Total H-1B Exemption and H-2B Visas Issued So Far for FY 2006

 

Dec 2 2005

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated the latest count for the H-1B Advanced Degree Exemption Category and for the H-2B visa for the first half of Fiscal Year 2006.

According to the USCIS, roughly 12,650 petitions have been approved under the H-1B Advanced Degree Cap Exemption for FY 2006 and nearly 3,500 petitions are currently pending final review (see table below for exact numbers). There are now less than 4,000 visas left under this exemption category for international workers with U.S. masters degrees or higher.

Almost 28,000 petitions have been approved to H-2B workers so far for the first half of FY 2006; a little more than 7,500 are still pending. A total of 33,000 H-2B visas are available for this period of 2006. Filed petitions for this period, according to USCIS, will be rejected the day after the cutoff date for new H-2B petition filings. This cutoff date will be set at the point that enough petitions and related worker applications have been received to reach the cap of 33,000 (after subtracting those first-time beneficiaries seeking a change of status). According to USCIS, roughly 60% of approved H-2B petitions will result in an actual H-2B visa issued from the Department o