Goel and Anderson - News http://www.goellaw.com/ Goel and Anderson. Innovative Approaches to Immigration Law. en-us Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:48:27 +0000 Supreme Court Allows Travel Ban to Take Full Effect http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/supreme_court_allows_travel_ban_to_take_full_effect http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1338 12/04/2017The United States Supreme Court has allowed the latest version of President Trump's travel ban to take full effect by issuing orders granting the Trump Administration's request for stays of preliminary injunctions against the travel ban.Prior to these orders, individuals with a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States could still enter the country despite the travel ban's restrictions. Most recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of some of the terms of District Court Judge Derrick Watson's preliminary injunction, which blocked the Trump administration from imposing the entire travel ban. The Supreme Court's orders stay Judge Watson's injunction and the injunction issued by District Court Judge Theodore Chuang.Our office will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Mon, 04 Dec 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson State Department Seeks to Extend Extreme Vetting http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/state_department_seeks_to_extend_extreme_vetting_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1337 11/29/2017Earlier this year the State Department began using a supplemental questionnaire to conduct more intensive vetting of visa applicants. On Monday, the State Department published a notice in the Federal Register that it intends to extend the use of the supplemental questionnaire, originally only authorized for six months, for three years. The public comment period lasts until December 27, 2017. In its notice, the State Department said the purpose of the supplemental questionnaire is to "resolve questions about an applicant's identity or to vet for terrorism, national security-related, or other visa ineligibilities." It is used "when the consular officer determines that the circumstances of a visa applicant, a review of a visa application, or responses in a visa interview indicate a need for greater scrutiny." Information collected through the supplemental questionnaire includes the following: • Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel (including domestic travel); • Address history during the last fifteen years; • Employment history during the last fifteen years; • All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant; • Names and dates of birth for all siblings, children, and current or former spouse(s) or civil/domestic partners; • Social media platforms and identifiers used during the last five years, and• Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years.The State Department estimates that between May 2017 to October 2, 2017 it asked approximately 25,000 applicants to complete the supplemental questionnaire. Further, the State Department estimates that it will ask 70,500 applicants to do so annually. In its notice, however, the State Department noted that "consular officers are directed not to request user passwords; engage or interact with individual visa applicants on or through social media when conducting assessments of visa eligibility; not to violate or attempt to violate individual privacy settings or controls; and not to use social media or assess an individual's social media presence beyond established Department guidance."Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of each Consular Officer to decide whether it is appropriate to request the supplemental questionnaire from a visa applicant. While completing the supplemental questionnaire is voluntary, failing to do so could result in the Consular Officer denying the visa application. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions. ]]> Wed, 29 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DHS Ends TPS for Haiti http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_ends_tps_for_haiti http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1336 11/22/2017On Monday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced the decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") designation for Haitian nationals. In her decision, the Acting Secretary announced a delayed effective date of 18 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation ends on July 22, 2019. TPS is a program created through the Immigration Act of 1990 that provides relief to people from countries that have been deemed unsafe for various reasons, such as natural disasters and civil war. Individuals receiving TPS are not allowed to be deported, can obtain work authorization, and may receive travel authorization. In 2010, Haiti was added to the list of countries granted TPS due to the damage the nation suffered from the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January of that year. In a similar manner to the decision to end the TPS designation for Nicaragua, the decision to end TPS for Haiti was made after the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") reviewed the conditions upon which Haiti's original designation were based and whether those extraordinary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals. DHS determined that the conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist, claiming that the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent. In a letter sent to the Acting Secretary on October 26, 2017, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the extension of the TPS program for Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans, noting the high labor force participation of the TPS population in the United States and warning that "ending the TPS designation for these three countries will exacerbate existing labor shortages in the [construction] industry at a time when such workers are essential to hurricane recovery efforts in states like Texas and Florida." Furthermore, a study by the NYU School of Law's Global Justice Clinic, also published in October 2017, concluded that Haiti continues to meet the conditions for the TPS designation, citing the impact of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the nation's housing and infrastructure crisis, and the continued spread of cholera which began during the relief efforts for the 2010 earthquake.DHS is scheduled to issue a decision on TPS for El Salvador next month. Previously, DHS extended TPS for South Sudan through May 2, 2019 and for Honduras through July 5, 2018, while more information is obtained and assessed.Our office will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Wed, 22 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Adopts AAO Decision on I-140 Revocations http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_adopts_aao_decision_on_i-140_revocations http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1335 11/21/2017USCIS recently adopted the Administrative Appeals Office's ("AAO") decision in Matter of V-S-G- Inc., which clarifies that beneficiaries of valid employment-based immigrant visa petitions (Form I-140) who have requested to change jobs or employers are "affected parties" in revocation proceedings. The portability provision of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 ("AC21") allows I-140 beneficiaries to change, or "port", jobs or employers if the petitions have been pending for at least 180 days. In its decision, the AAO noted that "AC21 places certain beneficiaries of Form I-140 petitions within the zones of interests of its statutory provisions that authorize porting to eligible new employment. As discussed above, a beneficiary might not, by virtue of porting, become entirely independent of his or her petitioning employer. Even so, or especially so, AC21 gives some beneficiaries a statutory interest in job flexibility that we will recognize in our administrative immigration proceedings." Ultimately, the AAO concluded that as affected parties, I-140 beneficiaries who have requested to change jobs or employers are eligible to participate in revocation proceedings. Thus, USCIS will now provide these specific I-140 beneficiaries the opportunity to respond to Notices of Intent to Revoke the previously filed I-140 petitions, as well as the ability to appeal revocations or file requests to reopen or reconsider revocations. As an adopted decision, Matter of V-S-G- Inc. is now binding policy for all adjudicating USCIS officers. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Tue, 21 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson NAWL Webinar on Hot Topics in Immigration http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nawl_webinar_on_hot_topics_in_immigration http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1334 11/16/2017Today Goel & Anderson attorney Meagan Dziura is speaking about hot topics in immigration in a webinar sponsored by the National Association of Women Lawyers ("NAWL"). Specifically, she is addressing recent trends in H-1B compliance enforcement and adjudications, such as targeted H-1B site visits, increased scrutiny on Computer Programmer positions, and increasing numbers of H-1B Requests for Evidence and denials that question whether offered H-1B positions qualify as specialty occupations. "USCIS is constantly changing how it reviews and adjudicates petitions," Ms. Dzuira notes. "In today's political climate, it is more important than ever to understand the latest processing issues and how to adapt to them. I look forward to speaking about the trends I have seen in my practice at Goel & Anderson and what immigration attorneys can do to help their clients get H-1B petitions approved." ]]> Thu, 16 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson December 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/december_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1333 11/15/2017Yesterday the Department of State released the preliminary December 2017 Visa Bulletin. Though unlikely, this information is subject to change from now until December 1, 2017. We will provide updates regarding any significant changes. The EB-1 category is expected to remain current for all geographic regions. EB-2 will only advance a few weeks for India and mainland China. Lastly, EB-3 China is expected to advance by a few weeks, while EB-3 India and Philippines will not see any change. Below is a breakdown of the projected final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories. EB-1: All countries are projected to remain current. EB-2: India's final action date is expected to advance to November 1, 2008 and mainland China's final action date is expected to advance to July 1, 2013. All remaining geographic regions will continue to have current final action dates. EB-3: India's final action is expected to remain October 15, 2006. China's final action date is expected to advance to March 8, 2014, and the final action date for the Philippines will remain January 15, 2016. All remaining geographic regions will continue to have current final action dates.]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson CBP Expands Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cbp_expands_global_entry_enrollment_on_arrival http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1332 11/14/2017Today, Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") announced that it is expanding Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival to eleven international airports. Global Entry is a program that allows pre-approved travelers to skip the traditional inspection by a CBP officer and instead use an automated kiosk to complete their admission to the United States. Enrollment on Arrival allows conditionally-approved Global Entry applicants to complete the enrollment process upon their arrival to the United States. Specifically, conditionally-approved applicants can complete the in-person interview while going through the normal CBP inspection process. Otherwise, Global Entry program applicants must attend an in-person interview at a CBP enrollment center.
 
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Tue, 14 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Ninth Circuit Tapers Travel Ban Block http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ninth_circuit_tapers_travel_ban_block http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1331 11/13/2017The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed the Trump administration's latest travel ban to partially take effect. In a brief order, the court granted an emergency stay of some of the terms of District Court Judge Derrick Watson's preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration from imposing travel limitations on nationals from Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. The stay allows the preliminary injunction to continue to protect nationals with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. The injunction still applies to foreign nationals with a "close familial relationship" with a person in the United States, including grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. For entities, the Ninth Circuit's order states that "the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course," specifically excluding relationships formed for the purpose of evading the terms of the travel ban. The other standing preliminary injunction against the travel ban, granted by District Court Judge Theodore Chuang, is unaffected because it was already limited in scope to those with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States.Our office will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Mon, 13 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1329 11/09/2017 USCIS has adopted the Administrative Appeals Office's ("AAO") decision in Matter of G-Inc. as policy guidance to clarify how adjudicators should analyze "function managers". According to the guidance, the petition must demonstrate that:1. The managed function is a clearly defined activity within the petitioner's organization;2. The function is essential to the petitioner's organization;3. The beneficiary will primarily manage, not perform, the essential function;4. The beneficiary will act at a senior level within the organization or with respect to the function managed; and5. The beneficiary will exercise discretion over the function's day-to-day operations.An adopted decision is an AAO non-precedent decision that USCIS decides to use as binding policy guidance for USCIS personnel, including adjudicators. ]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Adopts AAO Decision on Function Managers http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_adopts_aao_decision_on_function_managers http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1330 11/09/2017USCIS has adopted the Administrative Appeals Office's ("AAO") decision in Matter of G-Inc. as policy guidance to clarify how adjudicators should analyze "function managers". According to the guidance, the petition must demonstrate that:1. The managed function is a clearly defined activity within the petitioner's organization;2. The function is essential to the petitioner's organization;3. The beneficiary will primarily manage, not perform, the essential function;4. The beneficiary will act at a senior level within the organization or with respect to the function managed; and5. The beneficiary will exercise discretion over the function's day-to-day operations.An adopted decision is an AAO non-precedent decision that USCIS decides to use as binding policy guidance for USCIS personnel, including adjudicators. ]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Updates Medical Examination and Vaccination Form http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_medical_examination_and_vaccination_form http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1328 11/08/2017Yesterday USCIS announced in an e-mail to stakeholders it has updated Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. The updated form has an edition date of 10/19/2017. Starting January 2, 2018, civil surgeons must use the 10/19/17 edition of Form I-693. In the meantime, a signed Form I-693 with the current edition date, 02/07/2017, will still be accepted. USCIS will not accept the 02/07/2017 version of Form I-693 if it is signed and dated by a civil surgeon on or after January 2, 2018. You can find the latest information about form updates on the USCIS website. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney with any questions or concerns.]]> Wed, 08 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DHS Ends TPS for Nicaragua http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_ends_tps_for_nicaragua_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1327 11/07/2017Yesterday, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, announced the decision to end the Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") designation for Nicaragua. This decision was made after the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") reviewed the conditions upon which the country's original 1999 designation were based and whether they prevent Nicaragua from handling the return of their citizens. Additionally, DHS stated that no extension request was made by Nicaragua to continue their current TPS status. Therefore, Acting Secretary Duke concluded that the substantial but temporary conditions caused in Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 no longer existed and, pursuant to the applicable statute, the TPS designation must be terminated.Though DHS has decided to end TPS for Nicaragua, it is delaying the effective date of the termination for twelve months, thereby extending the program until January 5, 2019, to allow for individuals to either seek an alternative lawful immigration status or to depart the United States. In addition to the delay, DHS is also calling on Congress to find a more permanent plan for long-term residents of the temporary program.Temporary Protected Status is a program created through the Immigration Act of 1990 that provides relief to people from countries that have been deemed unsafe for various reasons, such as natural disasters and civil war. Individuals receiving TPS are not allowed to be deported, can obtain work authorization, and may receive travel authorization. In 1999, Nicaragua was added to the list of countries granted TPS due to the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch.While the decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans has been made, the Acting Secretary extended TPS for Honduras through July 5, 2018, while more information is obtained and assessed. DHS has not made a decision on TPS for Haiti and El Salvador. In a letter to the agency, Neil Bradley, Chief Policy Officer for the United States Chamber of Commerce, urged DHS to extend TPS for these countries, emphasizing the potential impact termination would have on the workforce. Previously, the Acting Secretary extended TPS for South Sudan through May 2019.Our office will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Goel & Anderson Ranked Among Best Law Firms for Immigration http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/goel_%26_anderson_ranked_among_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1326 "Best Law Firms" for Immigration11/01/2017Goel & Anderson, LLC has again been selected for
inclusion in the 2018 edition of the "Best Law Firms" rankings issued
by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. The firm has been awarded a
Tier 2 ranking in the field of immigration law for the Washington, DC
metropolitan area.  Firms included in the 2018 “Best Law Firms” list are
recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings
from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination
of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.“U.S. News has decades of experience evaluating key
institutions in society—from colleges to hospitals,” says Tim Smart, executive
editor at U.S. News. “Law firms perform a vital role in American life, and
ranking them is a key extension of our overall mission to helps individuals and
companies alike make important life decisions.” The 2018 rankings are based on the
highest number of participating firms and highest number of client ballots on
record. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which
recognizes the top 4 percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S. Over 13,000
attorneys provided more than 1,000,000 law firm assessments, and over 7,500
clients provided more than 65,000 evaluations. 
U.S. News-Best Lawyers began publishing rankings of Best Law Firms in
2010, and Goel & Anderson has been selected for the Best Law Firms list since
2011.Vic Goel, Managing Partner of Goel & Anderson, noted
"While the immigration of skilled workers is becoming more important in
our globalized economy, the processes involved in the U.S. have become less
predictable and managing immigration compliance has become more challenging.  Now, more than ever, it’s important to work
with a firm that understands your immigration challenges as an employer, values
you as a client, and anticipates your needs. 
We are honored to again 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).About “Best Law Firms” The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law
Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the
collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys
in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as
part of the formal submission process. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm
must have at least one lawyer listed in the 23rd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America list for
that particular location and specialty. About U.S. News &
World Report
U.S. News & World Report is a digital news and
information company that empowers people to make better, more informed
decisions about important issues affecting their lives. Focusing on Education,
Health, Personal Finance, Travel, Cars, and News & Opinion, USNews.com
provides consumer advice, rankings, news, and analysis to serve people making
complex decisions throughout all stages of life. More than 37 million people
visit USNews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S.
News is headquartered in Washington, D.C. About Best LawyersBest Lawyers is
the oldest and most respected attorney ranking service in the world. For more
than 30 years, Best Lawyers has assisted those in need of legal services to
identify the attorneys best qualified to represent them in distant
jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. Best
Lawyers lists are published in leading local, regional, and national
publications across the globe. The Best
Lawyers in America list recognizes the very best lawyers in each practice
area and metropolitan region in the country.About Goel & Anderson, LLCGoel & 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 http://www.goellaw.com.]]>
Wed, 01 Nov 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
OIG Report Recommends Changes to H-1B Site Visit Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/oig_report_recommends_changes_to_h-1b_site_visit_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1325 10/26/2017A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General recommends changes to the H-1B site visit program, which USCIS says it has already begun to implement.The OIG report highlights that between Fiscal Years 2014 and 2016, Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate ("FDNS") officers only conducted site visits for approximately three percent of all approved H-1B petitions. Additionally, the report notes most site visits only seek to verify basic information, such as whether H-1B holders are employed by their petitioners and if their work locations and wages are consistent with their approved petitions. The OIG also criticized USCIS' record-keeping, noting that it does not systemically track site visits. Furthermore, it pointed out that past Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program ("ASVVP") site visits have not differentiated between low-risk and high-risk petitioners. Lastly, the OIG report claims USCIS "does not promptly take action and report resolution when H-1B ASVVP site visits identify potential fraud or noncompliance," highlighting the fact that the revocation process for unverified site visits averaged 339 days from the time FDNS referred the site visit to USCIS. Based on its findings, the OIG made the following recommendations to USCIS:• Develop a process for collecting and analyzing complete and accurate data for all site visits;• Identify data and assessments obtained through site visit programs post-adjudication and implement measures to systematically share that information with external stakeholders;• Assess the ASVVP program, including how to enhance random sampling procedures to prioritize recurring violators; and• Develop comprehensive policies to ensure adjudicative action is prioritized on fraudulent or noncompliant immigration benefits. USCIS not only concurred with the OIG's recommendations, but detailed how it is already implementing initiatives to respond to them. Specifically, USCIS noted it plans to expand its targeted site visit program to include additional risk-based criteria by March 31, 2018. USCIS also plans to increase the number of ASVVP site visits up to 10,000 annually. The ASVVP target, combined with USCIS' plan to perform 10,000 annual targeted site visits, makes USCIS' goal conducting a total of 20,000 site visits per year. The report also states that USCIS has called for closer coordination among the Departments of Justice, Labor, and State in sharing information on H-1B program violations and petitioners that have been identified or are being investigated for fraudulent practices. Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Rescinds Deference Policy for Prior Approvals http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_rescinds_deference_for_prior_approvals http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1324 10/24/2017Late yesterday afternoon, USCIS issued a policy memorandum that rescinds a long-standing policy of giving deference to prior USCIS decisions for certain nonimmigrant visa petitions. In 2004, USCIS issued a policy memorandum that directed USCIS officers to give deference to a prior USCIS approval when the underlying facts of the nonimmigrant visa petition remain the same. The only exceptions were when USCIS determined it made a material error in approving the previous petition, a substantial change in circumstances had occurred, or new material information arose adversely impacting eligibility. The 2004 memorandum required USCIS to clearly articulate the exception in a Request for Evidence or denial if it did not give deference to the prior approval. USCIS reaffirmed its policy in August 2015, when it issued its final L-1B Adjudications Policy Memorandum. In explaining the rescission of the 2004 policy, USCIS claimed the prior policy is "impractical and costly to implement" and improperly shifted the burden of proof from the petitioner to USCIS by requiring USCIS to obtain a separate record and compare it to the new petition. USCIS' e-mail announcement to stakeholders, however, quoted USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna as saying, "This updated guidance provides clear direction to help advance policies that protect the interests of U.S. workers." The practical effect of this policy change is that USCIS officers are now instructed to apply the same level of scrutiny to all nonimmigrant visa petitions, even when the underlying facts are unchanged from a previously approved petition. To this end, USCIS' policy memorandum advises adjudicating officers to "not feel constrained in requesting additional documentation in the course of adjudicating a petition extension". If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Second Federal Judge Blocks Latest Travel Ban http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/second_federal_judge_blocks_latest_travel_ban http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1323 10/18/2017U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland has granted a preliminary injunction against President Trump's travel restrictions for Chad, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The injunction does not apply, however, to immigrants who lack a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. The injunction will remain in place unless Judge Chuang lifts it, decides on the case, or is overruled by an appeals court. Judge Chuang is the second federal judge to block the latest travel ban after U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order against the ban yesterday.The motion for a preliminary injunction was filed by plaintiffs led by the International Refugee Assistance Project. In his 91-page opinion, Judge Chuang echoed Judge Watson's concern that the ban violated sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act pertaining to discrimination based on nationality in the issuance of immigrant visas. He also went one step further, emphasizing the importance of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, saying that "to avoid sowing seeds of division in our nation, upholding this fundamental constitutional principle at the core of our Nation's identity serves a significant public interest." Specifically, Judge Chuang concluded that the Trump Administration's stated methodology for selecting countries to ban "did not simply rely on the results of an objective information-sharing review but instead made certain subjective determinations that resulted in a disproportionate impact on majority-Muslim nations." Therefore, concluding that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their case and would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, Judge Chuang granted the preliminary injunction. Under both Judge Chuang's preliminary injunction and Judge Watson's temporary restraining order, North Korea and Venezuela are still subject to travel limits. Judge Watson's temporary restraining order is slightly wider in scope in that it prevents the U.S. government from enforcing the ban on those who lack a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. That order, however, will only remain in force for two weeks, at which point Judge Watson must decide whether to renew it, convert it into an injunction, or let it expire.Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.***UPDATE (10/23/2017): Judge Watson has converted his temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction. ]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Federal Judge Blocks Third Travel Ban http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/federal_judge_blocks_third_travel_ban http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1322 10/17/2017A federal judge in Hawaii has issued a temporary restraining order blocking most of President Donald Trump's latest travel ban the day it was set to take effect. In his forty-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson wrote that the latest travel ban "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States'...". Judge Watson also stated that the travel ban "plainly discriminates based on nationality" in violation of federal law that prohibits discrimination based on nationality in the issuance of immigrant visas, in addition to being "antithetical... to the founding principles of this Nation." Judge Watson's temporary restraining order only applies to Syria, Chad, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Iran. North Korea and Venezuela are not affected by the ruling, and travel restrictions for those countries will go into effect. The temporary restraining order will expire after fourteen days, at which point Judge Watson can renew it, convert the restraining order into an injunction, or let the travel ban take effect. In issuing the temporary restraining order, Judge Watson concluded that the plaintiffs, including the State of Hawaii, the non-profit Muslim Association of Hawaii, and three individuals, were likely to win on the merits of the case and would suffer irreparable harm if the travel ban took effect. Specifically, Judge Watson wrote: Plaintiffs identify a multitude of harms that are not compensable with monetary damages and that are irreparable - among them, prolonged separation from family members, constraints to recruiting and retaining students and faculty members..., and the diminished membership of the [Muslim] Association, which impacts the vibrancy of its religious practices and instills fear among its members.The Justice Department has said that it plans to appeal the decision. Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.***UPDATE (10/23/2017): Judge Watson has converted his temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction.  ]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson November 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/november_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1319 10/13/2017 The Department of State has released its preliminary November 2017 Visa Bulletin. Though unlikely, this information is subject to change from now until November 1, 2017. We will provide updates regarding any significant changes. The EB-1 category is expected to remain current for all geographic regions. The EB-2 category, meanwhile, is projected to remain current for all geographic areas except for India and mainland China, whose final action dates are only expected to advance a few weeks. Finally, the EB-3 category will remain retrogressed for India, China, and the Philippines, with no advancement for India and marginal advancement for India and the Philippines. Below is a breakdown of the projected final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories:EB-1: All countries are projected to remain current. EB-2: India's final action date is expected to advance to October 8, 2008 and China's final action date is expected to advance to June 15, 2013. All remaining geographic regions will continue to have current final action dates. EB-3: China's final action date is expected to advance by one month to February 1, 2014, and the final action date for the Philippines will advance to January 15, 2016. India's final action date will remain October 15, 2006. All remaining geographic regions will continue to have current final action dates. ]]> Fri, 13 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Changes Form I-129 Filing Addresses http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_changes_form_i-129_filing_addresses_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1318 10/12/2017Today USCIS changed the direct filing addresses for certain petitioners of the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. For most cases, petitioners will now file the Form I-129 according to the state where the company or organization's primary office is located. Notably, petitioners located in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, all of whom will now file the Form I-129 with the California Service Center. Previously, petitioners primarily used the beneficiary's temporary employment or training location to determine where to file the Form I-129. Starting November 11, 2017, USCIS may reject Form I-129 filed with the incorrect service center. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions, and continue to check the Goel & Anderson website for the latest news regarding H-1B processing issues.
 
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Thu, 12 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
White House Details Immigration Priorities http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/white_house_details_immigration_priorities http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1320 10/09/2017The White House has released a comprehensive set of immigration priorities, spanning areas such as border security and interior enforcement. The list, sent to Congress as the White House's terms for any potential deal to protect "Dreamers", details numerous proposals for hot topics in immigration, such as constructing a wall along the Mexican border and restricting federal funding for "sanctuary cities". Notably, the Trump Administration is reaffirming its intention to transition to a merit-based immigration system for employment-based green cards. The Administration is proposing a points-based system "to prioritize skills and economic contributions over family connections." In doing so, the Administration is aiming to limit family-based green cards by only allowing spouses and minor children as derivatives, while excluding family derivatives such as parents and siblings. Additionally, the White House wants to mandate the use of E-Verify and impose harsher penalties for employers engaging in a pattern of employment violations. The Administration's priorities also call for expanding the definition of unlawful employment discrimination to include replacement of U.S. workers with foreign workers or preferential hiring of foreign workers over U.S. workers. Relevant to all visa applicants, including employment-based applicants, is the Administration's proposal to broaden the grounds for deportation and inadmissibility. For example, the White House is calling for making deportable anyone convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses or a single offense involving serious injury or death. Similarly, the Administration would make those convicted of drunk driving and domestic violence inadmissible. Lastly, the Administration has proposed hardening the implications for visa overstays. Specifically, it would classify a visa overstay as a criminal misdemeanor offense and bar anyone who overstays a visa from any immigration benefit for a certain period of time without the possibility of a waiver. The White House website provides an executive summary of the proposals. Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor breaking developments, so continue to check the Goel & Anderson website for the latest updates. You can contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions. ]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson IT Firm's H-1B Petition Wrongfully Denied http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/it_firm%E2%80%99s_h-1b_petition_wrongfully_denied http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1317 10/04/2017On Friday, a federal judge ruled that USCIS wrongfully revoked and denied H-1B petitions filed by Next Generation Technology, Inc. In a thirty-one page opinion, U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman ordered USCIS to reconsider the revoked and denied H-1B petitions and, if it reaffirms its decisions, provide a more specific explanation of why it is discounting the evidence submitted. Specifically, Judge Freeman said USCIS had not properly considered a project description, including a detailed description of the foreign national's proposed role as programmer, as evidence that the proposed position qualified as a specialty occupation:In sum, the Court finds that USCIS disregarded ‘pertinent evidence' in the Record and failed to ‘articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action' in declining to find that the programmer position being offered... by NGT was ‘a specialty occupation,' within the meaning of the [Immigration and Nationality Act] and applicable regulations, and that USCIS's decision in this regard was therefore arbitrary and capricious.Judge Freeman also found that USCIS failed to explain whether it properly considered evidence demonstrating an employer-employee relationship between Next Generation Technology Inc. and the foreign national, as well as the company's evidence that it could pay the sponsored worker the prevailing wage.]]> Wed, 04 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Publishes New Form I-765 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_new_form_i-765 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1315 10/03/2017Yesterday USCIS announced an update to the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, which includes additional questions that allow applicants to apply for a Social Security card without visiting a Social Security office. Previously, applicants needed to submit a Form I-765 to USCIS to obtain their Employment Authorization Document ("EAD") cards and then submit additional paperwork in person at a local Social Security office to obtain a Social Security number.The new Social Security-related questions on the updated I-765 are optional. To apply for a Social Security number using Form I-765, however, the applicant must provide consent for USCIS to disclose information from the form to the Social Security Administration and provide the names of his or her parents. According to USCIS, applicants who receive their approved EADs from USCIS should receive their Social Security card from the Social Security Administration within the following two weeks. The new edition of Form I-765 is dated 07/17/2017. Starting December 4, 2017, USCIS will only accept the new edition of the form. Until then, applicants can continue to use the existing 01/17/2017 edition.]]> Tue, 03 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Premium Processing Now Available for All H-1B Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-1b_premium_processing_now_available_for_all_petitions http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1316 10/03/2017Today USCIS announced in an e-mail to stakeholders that, effective immediately, it is resuming premium processing for all H-1B extension of stay petitions. Premium processing is now available for all types of H-1B petitions. USCIS resumed H-1B premium processing incrementally, beginning with H-1B petitions filed for physicians under the Conrad 30 Waiver program and then those filed by institutions of higher education and nonprofit or governmental research organizations. Most recently, USCIS resumed premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions on September 18th. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions, and continue to check the Goel & Anderson website for the latest news regarding H-1B processing issues.]]> Tue, 03 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson New Details About In-Person Green Card Interviews http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_details_about_in-person_interviews_for_green_card_applic http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1314 10/02/2017On Thursday, September 28th, the Citizenship and Immigration Services ("CIS") Ombudsman held a teleconference to provide further details regarding USCIS' announcement it will expand mandatory in-person interviews for certain green card applicants, notably applicants applying for employment-based adjustments of status. As stated in the call, the interviews will be phased in incrementally. Field offices will interview all applicants with cases filed for Fiscal Year 2018 on or after March 6, 2017, with all Fiscal Year 2019 applicants being interviewed at the designated field office. Applicants who filed prior to March 6, 2017 will be interviewed on a case-by-case basis.The CIS Ombudsman teleconference explained that the field offices will determine the interview schedule availability while the National Benefits Center ("NBC") will review the schedule and create the interview notice to be sent to the applicant and attorney. As stated Thursday, the NBC began sending interview notices around September 1, 2017. Applicants will not receive a transfer notice, though the interview notice will serve as notice that the case has been moved to the field office.For the interview, applicants for employment-based green cards should be able to explain how they qualify for their green card positions, as well as answer questions regarding where they will work, the duties to be performed, their educational background, and experience. Family members will also need to provide evidence that they possess a bona fide relationship with the principal applicant. While the interviews for family members will most likely occur at the same time as the principal applicants, dependents may be interviewed at a separate time if applications are filed separately.The CIS Ombudsman noted that officers are instructed not to re-adjudicate approved I-140s but will be assessing the validity and credibility of documents and information in the underlining I-140 petition. If additional documentation is required, NBC will issue a Request for Evidence asking for the missing documentation. If an officer finds the provided evidence not credible, the I-485 and I-140 will be returned to the service center with a Notice of Intent to Deny issued to clarify and overcome any issues. Finally, officers with "same or similar" concerns are instructed to reach out to service centers for clarifications without being required to return the case to the service center.Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Mon, 02 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Company to Pay Record $95 Million in Fines http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/company_to_pay_record_%2495_million_in_fines_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1313 09/29/2017A federal judge ordered Asplundh Tree Expert Company of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania to pay an $80 million forfeiture money judgment after it pled guilty yesterday to unlawfully employing foreign workers. The company must also pay $15 million in civil penalties. The total $95 million in fines is the largest amount ever imposed upon a company in an immigration case. A six-year Homeland Security Investigations ("HIS") audit revealed that the company decentralized its hiring practices to allow its highest levels of management to remain "willfully blind" as second and third level supervisors hired and rehired employees known to be ineligible to work in the United States. Hiring occurred through word of mouth referrals instead of a systematic application process. According to the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") statement, this decentralized hiring model "tacitly perpetuated" fraudulent hiring practices, such as accepting identification documents known to be fraudulent, which increased the company's productivity and profit, thus incentivizing supervisors to ignore immigration laws. ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said the record fine was a "strong, clear message" to employers to not illegally employ foreign workers.
 
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Fri, 29 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Trump Issues New Travel Restrictions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/trump_issues_new_travel_restrictions http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1312 09/25/2017With his most recent travel ban order expiring, President Trump issued a proclamation yesterday implementing travel restrictions for eight countries. In his proclamation, the President states these new restrictions stem from a recently completed worldwide review of whether countries meet criteria related to national security and public safety risk assessments, as well as sharing information relevant to the screening and vetting of foreign nationals traveling to the United States. The countries affected by the new proclamation are: North Korea, Syria, Chad, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Iran, and Venezuela, with the restrictions varying for each country. The Department of State's announcement provides a breakdown of the respective restrictions, the most severe of which apply to North Korea and Syria. The respective restrictions apply to foreign nationals who are outside of the U.S., do not have valid visas, and are not eligible to have visas revoked previously pursuant to the President's original travel ban reissued.Similar to the President's most recent travel ban, the new travel restrictions encompass numerous exceptions, including:• Lawful permanent residents, commonly known as green card holders;• Foreign nationals with valid travel documents other than visas, such as advance parole; • Foreign nationals admitted to the United States by CBP on or after the applicable effective date;• Dual nationals traveling using a passport issued by a non-designated country; • Foreign nationals who have already been granted asylum or admitted as a refugee; and• Foreign nationals travel on certain diplomatic visas. The new restrictions are currently set to take effect at different times. For foreign nationals who were subject to the previous travel ban and "lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," the restrictions took effect at 3:30 p.m. EST yesterday, September 24th. Everyone else will be subject to the new restrictions at 12:01 a.m. EST on October 18th. Consular and CBP officers will continue to have discretion to grant waivers for the issuance of visas and admission into the United States on a case-by-case basis if it is determined that denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship; entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States; and entry would be in the national interest. The proclamation identifies several circumstances which would justify a waiver, including both business and humanitarian reasons. For the full list of current exceptions to the new restrictions and possible waivers, please refer to the full text of the new proclamation.While the new travel restrictions are indefinite, the proclamation does state that "the Secretary of Homeland Security may recommend to the President the removal or modification of any or all restrictions and limitations" at any time. Beyond that, the Secretary of Homeland Security is required to submit a report to the President every six months with recommendations for whether existing restrictions should be continued, modified, or ended, as well as whether to impose additional restrictions. For more information, you can refer to the White House's FAQs. Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney. ]]> Mon, 25 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Premium Processing for FY2018 H-1B Cap Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/premium_processing_for_fy2018_h-1bs http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1311 09/18/2017Today, USCIS announced that, effective immediately, it is resuming premium processing for pending H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B cap. It is the latest development in USCIS' incremental return of premium processing for H-1B petitions. USCIS has already resumed premium processing for H-1B petitions filed for medical doctors through the Conrad 30 Waiver program and H-1B petitions filed by certain cap-exempt petitioners. Regarding when USCIS will resume premium processing for other H-1B petitions, the USCIS announcement noted, "USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all other remaining H-1B petitions... as agency workloads permit." Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions, and continue to check the Goel & Anderson website for the latest news regarding H-1B processing issues.
 
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Mon, 18 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS' Disaster Immigration Relief http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis%E2%80%99_disaster_immigration_relief http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1310 09/13/2017Today, as it has done it the past, USCIS reminded stakeholders of immigration relief available to those affected by unforeseen extreme circumstances, such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. For example, USCIS offers the following relief to those who can demonstrate how the impact of a natural catastrophe or other extreme situation created a need for the requested relief:• Exceptions for failure to apply for an extension or change of nonimmigrant status for individuals currently in the United States before their status expires.• Assistance for those unable to respond to a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny before the due date.• Expedited replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, including green cards.• Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications.• Assistance for those unable to appear for a scheduled interview or biometrics appointment with USCIS.In most cases, requests must be made by calling USCIS' National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.]]> Wed, 13 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson October 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/october_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1309 09/12/2017The Department of State has released its preliminary October 2017 Visa Bulletin. Though unlikely, this information is subject to change from now until October 1, 2017. We will provide updates regarding any significant changes to the employment-based final action dates. There are significant developments with the October 2017 Visa Bulletin. The EB-1 category for India and mainland China are projected to become current. The EB-2 category is also projected to advance for all chargeability areas, with only India and mainland China remaining retrogressed. Lastly, the EB-3 category is projected to advance two years for mainland China, though the EB-3 India final action date is expected to remain unchanged and EB-3 Philippines is only projected to advance by a month. Below is a breakdown of the projected final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories:EB-1: All countries are projected to be current. EB-2: India's final action date will advance a few weeks to September 15, 2008, and mainland China's final action date will advance a week to May 22, 2013. All other countries will have current final action dates. EB-3: Mainland China will advance two years to January 1, 2014. The Philippines will advance a month to December 1, 2015, while EB-3 India will remain retrogressed at October 15, 2016. ]]> Tue, 12 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Releases Redesigned E-Verify Participation Poster http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releases_redesigned_e-verify_participation_poster http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1307 09/07/2017USCIS released a newly redesigned E-Verify participation poster to inform all current and prospective employees of their legal rights, protections and responsibilities throughout the employment eligibility verification process. The new poster must replace any previous participation posters used by employers immediately once an update has been provided by USCIS as stated in the E-Verify User Manual. While employers have the option to display any of the 16 foreign language versions of the poster, they are required to display the Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Right to Work posters in English and Spanish.For more information regarding the updates made to the E-Verify participation posters, please refer to the E-Verify Participation Poster page on USCIS' website.]]> Thu, 07 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Ending DACA Will Cost Employers Billions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ending_daca_will_cost_employers_billions%2C_cato_institute_war http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1308 09/07/2017A report from David Bier at the Cato Institute warns that ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program will cost employers billions.The Department of Homeland Security rescinded the Obama-era memo establishing DACA, replacing it with a new memo outlining a plan to end the program. No new applications will be accepted, and recipients whose permits expire after March 5, 2018 will not be able to renew them. Furthermore, USCIS will reject all renewal applications after October 5, 2017. To date, about 800,000 immigrants have received renewable, two-year work permits under DACA.The Cato Institute projects that dismissing DACA recipients and retraining their replacements would cost employers $6.3 billion. Leaders in the tech industry, which employs many DACA recipients, publicly voiced their disapproval. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the decision "particularly cruel," and Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith stated that Microsoft "will exercise its legal rights properly to help protect [its] employees. If the government seeks to deport any one of them, [it] will provide and pay for their legal counsel." More than 350 chief executives of major companies have signed a letter urging President Trump not to end the program.]]> Thu, 07 Sep 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Bloomberg BNA Examines Increased Work Visa Scrutiny http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bloomberg_bna_examines_increased_work_visa_scrutiny_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1305 08/31/2017On Tuesday, the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs ("Bloomberg BNA") published an article entitled, "Immigration Agency May Be Expanding Anti-Fraud Program." In the article, Bloomberg BNA examines whether USCIS is making unannounced changes to its anti-fraud efforts, including expanding the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program ("ASVVP") to include L-1B petitions. For its article, Bloomberg BNA interviewed Goel & Anderson's Managing Partner, Vic Goel, regarding increased scrutiny on work visas. Mr. Goel, the former Chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Business Immigration Committee, stated, "There is a greater emphasis on verification with regard to most business immigration programs." "It would not surprise me just to see greater emphasis on site visits" and "extreme vetting" of visa applicants, he elaborated.Mr. Goel also noted he has received reports of recent L-1B site visits from a client. In 2014, USCIS expanded the ASVVP to include site visits to employers with workers that have R-1 religious worker visas and L-1 intracompany transferee visas, in addition to H-1B visas. Mr. Goel noted that at the time USCIS was "pretty explicit" that it would only conduct site visits for L-1A petitions, though he said lawmakers tend to lump the H-1B and L-1B categories together when discussing anti-fraud measures. He also said recent developments may only be the "tip of the iceberg" for new anti-fraud efforts related to the Trump Administration's calls to increase scrutiny of companies that hire foreign workers. Finally, Mr. Goel explained that while USCIS' need to verify information in petitions is understandable, transparency in how USCIS does so is important. For an explanation of how the ASVVP conducts site visits, please see the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program page on the USCIS website.Please contact your Goel and Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Thu, 31 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS to Hold Stakeholder Teleconference About New Form I-9 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_hold_stakeholder_teleconference_about_new_form_i-9 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1306 08/31/2017USCIS will conduct a stakeholder teleconference on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, to discuss the newest version of Form I-9. USCIS' goal is to provide information on the latest updates and enhancements to the Form I-9, share relevant information regarding resources, and answer any questions about the form. Beginning September 18, 2017, use of the newest version of the Form I-9 with the revision date of "07/17/17" is mandatory. To participate in the teleconference, please refer to the teleconference invitation for sign-up instructions. ]]> Thu, 31 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Defines "Affiliate" and "Subsidiary" for H-1Bs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_defines_%E2%80%9Caffiliate%E2%80%9D_and_%E2%80%9Csubsidiary%E2%80%9D_for_acwia http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1304 08/30/2017On Monday, USCIS released a policy memorandum (PM) that defines the terms "affiliate" and "subsidiary" for the purpose of determining whether a company is subject to the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) fee. In doing so, USCIS confirms that employees of a parent company, foreign subsidiaries, and foreign affiliates should not be counted toward the petitioning company's number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.The ACWIA fee, made permanent as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, is set at $1,500 for each qualifying petition filed by employers with 26 or more FTE U.S. employees. Employers with 25 or fewer FTE U.S. employees are only required to pay a $750 fee. This fee is applied to an initial H-1B petition, any petition requesting to change H-1B employers, and the first petition that requests an extension of stay in H-1B status that is filed by the same petitioner for the same employee. For a list of exemptions to the ACWIA fee, please see the H-1B filing fee page on the USCIS website. USCIS released this new PM to ensure consistency in how USCIS officers determine ACWIA fee payments, as the Immigration and Nationality Act does not explicitly define the terms for ACWIA fee determinations. While USCIS does not have specific definitions for "affiliate" and "subsidiary" for the H-1B classification, it has defined them in the context of the L-1 nonimmigrant visa category and is adopting them for ACWIA fee determinations. USCIS defines "affiliate" in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(L)(1-2) as:• One of two subsidiaries both of which are owned and controlled by the same parent or individual, or• One of two legal entities owned and controlled by the same group of individuals with each individual owning and controlling approximately the same share of each entity.USCIS defines "subsidiary" at 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(K) as a firm, corporation, or other legal entity in which a parent:• Owns, directly or indirectly, more than half of the entity and controls the entity;• Owns, directly or indirectly, half of the entity and controls the entity;• Owns, directly or indirectly, 50 percent of a 50-50 joint venture and has equal control and veto power over the entity; or • Owns, directly or indirectly, less than half of the entity, but maintains control of the entity.In conclusion, the PM instructs USCIS officers to "count down and horizontally to include the petitioning employer's other affiliates and subsidiaries, but not up toward its parent or its affiliates' parent(s)."Please contact your Goel and Anderson attorney if you have any questions regarding USCIS' definitions of affiliate and subsidiary.]]> Wed, 30 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson In-Person Interviews for Green Card Applicants http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/mandatory_interviews_for_green_card_applicants http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1303 08/29/2017Yesterday evening USCIS announced it is expanding mandatory in-person interviews for green card applicants. Effective October 1st, USCIS will begin to phase-in interviews for employment-based adjustment of status applications and refugee/asylee relative petitions for foreign nationals who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal refugee/ayslee applicant. Previously, USCIS did not require in-person interviews with USCIS officers for these applications. USCIS also stated that it is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.USCIS is making this change to comply with President Trump's Executive Order, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," which directed the Secretary of Homeland Security and other agency heads to develop uniform screening procedures, such as in-person interviews. USCIS' announcement described the purpose of the interviews as follows: "Conducting in-person interviews will provide USCIS officers with the opportunity to verify the information provided in an individual's application, to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States."USCIS also stated it will implement internal enhancements in training and technology, along with transitioning certain aspects of case management, to meet the additional interview requirement.Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions. ]]> Tue, 29 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Office Closings http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_office_closings_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1302 08/28/2017The USCIS Field Office, the USCIS Asylum Office, and USCIS Application Support Centers in Houston, Texas remain closed today and tomorrow due to Hurricane Harvey. For the latest updates, continue to check the Office Closings page of the USCIS website. When USCIS field offices are unexpectedly closed, USCIS will automatically reschedule interview and biometric appointments, but individuals are responsible for rescheduling InfoPass and other appointments. USCIS application support centers, meanwhile, will automatically reschedule appointments if they close for the entire day due to unforeseen circumstances. If an application support center opens late or closes early, however, individuals must reschedule their own appointments. Please see the Rescheduling Appointments section of the USCIS website for more information. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions. ]]> Mon, 28 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DOL Guidance on PERM Audit Responses & Recruitment http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_guidance_on_perm_audit_responses_%26_recruitment_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1301 August 25, 2017In the PERM program, the Department of Labor (DOL) is tasked with ensuring that employers are apprising U.S. workers of the job opportunities offered to foreign workers sponsored for permanent residency by their employers. In doing so, DOL initiates both random and targeted audits that typically request information about the employer's recruitment efforts. Two certifying officers from DOL's Office of Foreign Labor Certification recently conducted a webinar on PERM Audit Responses, in which they provided submission and practice tips. DOL's practice pointers, outlined in the presentation DOL published this week, mainly focus on audit triggers, PERM recruitment documentation needed to respond to an audit notice, extension and withdrawal requests, and DOL's preferred method of submission.In its webinar, DOL discussed business necessity audit triggers, such as the job opportunity requirements, foreign language requirements, multiple filings, and layoffs. DOL emphasized that when preparing an audit response, the employer should submit clear, legible, and dated copies of the recruitment activities it completed, including highlighted or circled newspaper ads with the newspaper name and publication date, website postings with URLs, and recruitment reports. Specifically, DOL stated an adequate recruitment report should include the following information and documents where applicable: • An outline of all recruitment activities;• Number of applicants and number hired;• Number of U.S. applicants rejected, listed under each applicable lawful disqualification reason;• Information regarding whether any U.S. applicants were interviewed;• The names of all U.S. applicants and any additional identifying information that will assist the Certifying Officer with reviewing applications;• Resumes and completed employment applications, attached to the recruitment report and presented in the same order that the applicants are listed in the report; and • Documentation used in the normal course of business to verify applicants' status for the job opportunity.DOL reminded stakeholders that PERM applications may be denied based on the following reasons: failure to timely submit a response; submitting an inadequate response; and listing a total number of U.S. applicants rejected not equal the total number of U.S. applications received. Also, DOL noted that insufficient or inadequate responses may result in DOL conducting supervised recruitment for future labor certification applications. DOL also confirmed that an extension request or a request to withdraw may be filed in response to the audit notice. The presenters, however, noted that extension requests should not be submitted immediately before the response deadline. Requests for extensions should include: the amount of additional time needed; the reason why the extension is needed; and, although not required, documentation to support the reason for the request. Importantly, a full response to the audit is still required when a request to withdraw is submitted. Finally, DOL confirmed that both mail and electronic submissions are still accepted, though DOL prefers electronic submissions to expedite case processing.Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about the PERM process or these practice pointers from DOL.]]> Fri, 25 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson New Form I-485 Required Next Week http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_form_i-485_required_next_week http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1299 08/15/2017 In June, USCIS released a new version of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. As a reminder, the grace period for continuing to use the existing version of the form ends next week. Starting August 25, 2017, USCIS will only accept the new Form I-485 (edition date 06/26/2017). When it released the new form, USCIS explained that it updated the I-485, together with the form's instructions and Supplements A and J, "to reduce complexity after collecting comments from the public and stakeholders." Most notably, all biographic information will now be included on the Form I-485 in lieu of a separate Form G-325A. USCIS also added new admissibility and biographic questions.Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson New Study Predicts RAISE Act Would Hurt U.S. Economy http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_study_predicts_raise_act_would_hurt_u.s._economy http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1298 08/11/2017Yesterday, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business published a study entitled, "The RAISE Act: Effect on Economic Growth and Jobs," which predicts the RAISE Act would harm the U.S. economy. The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy ("RAISE") Act, introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA), seeks to drastically reduce immigration to the United States, such as by eliminating the Diversity Lottery, limiting refugee admissions, and limiting family-based permanent residency. It would also overhaul how employment-based green cards are allocated by turning employment-based permanent residency into a points-based system that weighs factors such as age, education, and salary. The Wharton School's study projects that by 2040 the RAISE Act would decrease the number of U.S. jobs by 4.6 million, decrease the country's gross domestic product by two percent, and slow the overall growth of the American economy. In explaining its findings, the Wharton School noted, "Job losses emerge because domestic workers will not fill all the jobs that immigrant workers would have filled."Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson September 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/september_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1297 08/09/2017Today the Department of State released its preliminary September 2017 Visa Bulletin. Though unlikely, this information is subject to change from now until September 1, 2017. We will provide updates regarding any significant changes to the employment-based final action dates. None of the EB-1 final action dates are projected to change from the August Visa Bulletin. Therefore, mainland China and India will remain retrogressed with a January 1, 2012 final action date, while all other geographic areas are projected to remain current. For EB-2, there is projected advancement for all geographic areas. Lastly, for EB-3, there is projected advancement for India and the Philippines. EB-3 China, however, is not projected to advance, and the category will remain current for all other geographic areas. Below is a breakdown of the projected final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: India and mainland China will have a final action date of January 1, 2012. All other geographic areas will remain current. EB-2: All geographic areas will remain retrogressed, with projected advancement to the following final action dates:India: August 22, 2008China: May 15, 2013Mexico: January 1, 2016Philippines: January 1, 2016El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: January 1, 2016Rest of the World: January 1, 2016EB-3: Only India, mainland China, and the Philippines will have retrogressed final action dates, which will be:India: October 15, 2006China: January 1, 2012Philippines: November 1, 2015The EB-3 category will remain current for all other geographic areas. ]]> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Forbes Examines RAISE Act http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/forbes_examines_raise_act http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1296 08/07/2017Late Thursday, Forbes published an article entitled, "Cotton and Trump Team Hand America a Bad Bill". In the article, Forbes examines the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy ("RAISE") Act. The article comes in the wake of Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Senator David Perdue (R-GA) introducing a revised version of the bill, originally introduced in February, last week. President Trump announced the same day that he supports the bill, which Senators Cotton and Perdue originally introduced in February. The RAISE act would overhaul many aspects of the country's existing immigration laws. For example, the bill would eliminate the Diversity Lottery, which allocates 50,000 immigrant visas, or green cards, per year to foreign nationals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. It would also cap the number of refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Furthermore, the bill would change how the government allocates family-based immigrant visas. Namely, the RAISE Act would eliminate visa preferences for extended family members and adult family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, though it would create a renewable temporary visa for elderly parents coming to the United States for caretaking. Employment-based immigration, however, would see the greatest change under the RAISE Act. The legislation would turn employment-based permanent residency into a points system. Through this system, applicants would be awarded points based on education, English language proficiency, salary, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative. For example, an applicant at least twenty-six years old but younger than thirty-one would receive ten age-based preference points, while anyone older than fifty would not receive any points based on age. Meanwhile, an applicant with a foreign bachelor's degree would receive five preference points for education, while someone with a U.S. master's degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics field would receive eight points. Foreign nationals must accrue at least thirty points to apply for an employment-based green card, and the government would limit the number of those immigrant visas to 140,000 per year. The process would begin with the applicant paying a $160 fee to enter a pool from which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") would then invite the highest scorers to file full applications. USCIS would perform this process twice a year, with half the allotment of immigrant visas available for each cycle. In speaking with Forbes about the RAISE Act, Vic Goel, Goel & Anderson's Managing Partner, said, "This legislation is really cold-hearted." He went on to note, "I've concluded that not only would there be no mechanism for H-1B extensions beyond 6 years, but even more troubling is no mention of any transition plan for those who are affected by backlogs in the employment-based visa categories that will be eliminated." Goel and Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel and Anderson attorney.]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Premium Processing Resumes for More H-1Bs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/premium_processing_resumes_for_more_h-1bs http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1295 07/24/2017Today, USCIS announced that it will immediately resume premium processing for H-1B petitions that may be exempt from the H-1B cap because the petitioner is:• An institution of higher education;• A nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or• A nonprofit research or governmental research organization. USCIS noted that it is also resuming premium processing for petitions that may also be exempt from the H-1B cap because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organization, or entity. The suspension of premium processing for H-1B petitions went into effect on April 3, 2017. This announcement, however, continues USCIS' incremental return of premium processing for H-1B petitions, which began when it resumed premium processing for H-1B petitions filed for doctors through the Conrad 30 waiver program. Regarding when USCIS will resume premium processing for other H-1B petitions, the USCIS announcement noted, "USCIS plans to resume premium processing of other H-1B petitions as workloads permit. USCIS will make additional announcements with specific details related to when we will begin accepting premium processing for those petitions. Until then, premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions. USCIS will reject any Form I-907 filed for those petitions, and if the petitioner submitted one check combining the Form I-907 and Form I-129 fees, USCIS will have to reject both forms."Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions, and continue to check the Goel & Anderson website for the latest news regarding H-1B processing issues. ]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Finishes Returning H-1B Cap Cases http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_finishes_returning_h-1b_cap_cases http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1294 07/19/2017Today USCIS announced it has finished returning all Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B cap cases that were not selected in the lottery. Petitioners should receive either a receipt notice or returned petition for all H-1B cap cases by July 31st. If not, petitioners may contact USCIS for assistance. ]]> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson 15,000 More H-2B Visas for FY2017 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/15%2C000_more_h-2b_visas_for_fy2017_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1291 07/18/2017Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") announced it will allow the issuance of 15,000 additional H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2017, which ends September 30, 2017. The H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker program has a Congressionally-mandated limit of 66,000 visas per fiscal year, and USCIS announced in March it had received enough H-2B petitions to meet that limit. Subsequently, in May, Congress gave DHS Secretary John Kelly the authority to accept additional H-2B petitions. In its announcement, DHS noted that the additional H-2B visas are only available to "U.S. businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm" if they cannot hire additional H-2B workers. When filing Form I-129 for additional H-2B workers this fiscal year, petitioners must attest under penalty of perjury they are likely to suffer such harm.A final rule is expected to be published on the Federal Register tomorrow, which will provide details on eligibility and filing requirements. In the meantime, the unpublished rule is available for review on the Federal Register page which will contain the final, published rule. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Releasing New Form I-9 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releasing_new_form_i-9 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1290 07/14/2017On Monday USCIS will release a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which will include revisions to the form's instructions and the list of acceptable documents. The new edition date will be 07/17/2017. Effective September 18, 2017, employers must use the new version of the form. In the meantime, employers can continue using the existing 11/14/2016 edition of the form. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.--- UPDATE (08/28/2017): Today USCIS announced the release of an updated Spanish language I-9 Central website, which includes updated information about the latest Form I-9. ]]> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson August 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/august_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1289 07/12/2017The Department of State has released the August 2017 Visa Bulletin, which shows the EB-1 category will remain will remain current across all geographic areas except for India and mainland China. The EB-2 category, however, will have retrogressed final action dates for all geographic areas, with no advancement for EB-2 India and minimal advancement for EB-2 China. For the EB-3 category, only India, mainland China, and the Philippines will have retrogressed final action dates. Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: The final action date will remain January 1, 2012 for both India and mainland China. All other geographic areas will have a current final action date.EB-2: All geographic areas will have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: July 22, 2008China: April 22, 2013Mexico: April 1, 2015Philippines: April 1, 2015El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: April 1, 2015 Rest of the World: April 1, 2015EB-3: Only India, mainland China, and the Philippines will have retrogressed final action dates, which will be:India: July 15, 2006China: January 1, 2012Philippines: June 1, 2015All other geographic areas will become current for the EB-3 category. You can find a complete copy of the Visa Bulletin here.]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DHS Delays International Entrepreneur Rule http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_delays_international_entrepreneur_rule_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1288 07/11/2017Today, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") announced it is delaying the implementation of a previously published International Entrepreneur Rule. DHS published the International Entrepreneur Rule on January 17th, just days before President Trump took office. Originally scheduled to take effect July 17th, it would have allowed foreign entrepreneurs with start-up businesses in the United States to apply for parole to enter the country. Through today's notice, DHS delayed the implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule until March 14, 2018. DHS, however, intends to rescind the regulation through the same rule-making process that DHS previously used to publish it. Specifically, today's notice states that "DHS will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking soliciting public comments on the proposal to rescind the IE Final Rule. The delayed effective date will provide an opportunity for the notice and comment rulemaking to take place." DHS issued today's notice based on President Trump's January 25th Executive Order "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements," which called for DHS to limit its use of parole to case-by-case scenarios. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Tue, 11 Jul 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson CBP Expands Global Entry to Indian Citizens http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cbp_expands_global_entry_to_indian_citizens http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1287 07/03/2017Today, Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") announced the expansion of its Global Entry program to Indian citizens. Global Entry is a program that allows pre-approved travelers to skip the traditional inspection by a CBP officer and instead use an automated kiosk to complete their admission to the United States. The automated kiosks are currently in use at 53 U.S. airports. To enroll in the program, applicants must submit an online application and the $100 application fee for a five-year membership. Applicants then must pass a background check and attend an in-person interview at one of CBP's enrollment centers in the United States, Canada, or Qatar. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Mon, 03 Jul 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson FAQs for Partial Travel Ban http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/faqs_for_partial_travel_ban http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1286 06/29/2017In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, the Departments of State and Homeland Security have published Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs") about the partial implementation of President Trump's revised travel ban. Pursuant to a June 14th Presidential Memorandum, the partial travel ban takes effect today at 8:00 pm EST. The FAQs address a wide range of topics concerning who is affected by the partial travel ban. Most notably, the current FAQs address the issue of what constitutes a "bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States". The Department of State's FAQs state that anyone applying for a B, C-1, C-3, D, or I visa must "make a credible claim of a bona fide relationship" with either a person or individual in the United States. Both sets of FAQs specify that the following familial relationships do not constitute a "close family" relationship as required by the Supreme Court to be exempt from the partial travel ban: grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law, and any other "extended" family members. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Thu, 29 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Supreme Court Partially Reinstates Travel Ban http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/supreme_court_partially_reinstates_travel_ban http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1284 06/26/2017Today, the United States Supreme Court ("the Court") partially reinstated President Trump's revised travel ban and will hear oral arguments on the related cases next term. In its order, the Court ruled that while the cases are pending, the government can enforce the travel ban against "foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States".The Court defined "credible claim of a bona fide relationship" as a "close familial relationship" for individuals. For entities, the Court stated "the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO-2 [Executive Order 2]". The Court's order then lists three examples that would qualify as a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity:• A student admitted to an American university.• A worker who has accepted an employment offer from an American company.• A lecturer invited to address an American audience. In outlining its reasoning for the order, the Court concluded the balance of hardship favors the government when the foreign national does not have a relationship with an individual or entity in the United States. "Denying entry to such a foreign national does not burden any American party... And the courts below did not conclude that exclusion in such circumstances would impose any legally relevant hardship on the foreign national himself. ...So whatever burdens may result from enforcement of §2(c) [the travel ban section of the President's Executive Order] against a foreign national who lacks any connection to this country, they are, at a minimum, a good deal less concrete than the hardships identified by the courts below. At the same time, the Government's interest in enforcing §2(c), and the Executive's authority to do so, are undoubtedly at their peak when there is no tie between the foreign national and the United States."The Court's order also applies to the President's attempt to temporarily suspend, and ultimately limit, refugee admissions. Thus, refugees who do not have a "bona fide relationship" with an American individual or entity are no longer protected by lower court injunctions. Those who do, however, may still apply for admission as a refugee and are not subject to the cap of 50,000 refugee admissions per year mandated by President Trump's Executive Order.Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, concurred in part and dissented in part. In his partial dissent, he wrote, "...I fear that that the Court's remedy will prove unworkable. Today's compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding - on peril of contempt - whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country. ...The compromise will also invite a flood of litigation until this case is finally resolved on the merits, as parties and courts struggle to determine what exactly constitutes a ‘bona fide relationship,' who precisely has a ‘credible claim' to that relationship, and whether the claimed relationship was formed ‘simply to avoid §2(c)' of Executive Order No. 13780..." He also noted that the lower courts likely to hear those cases had already ruled against the government unanimously and that "neither party asks for the scope of relief that the Court today provides."Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Mon, 26 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Releases New Form I-485 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releases_new_form_i-485 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1285 06/26/2017Today, USCIS published a new version of Form I-485, along with updated Supplements A and J. The new edition date for each form is 06/26/2017. Effective August 25, 2017, USCIS will only accept the new editions of the forms. USCIS will continue to accept the existing 01/17/2017 editions of the forms in the meantime.In its announcement, USCIS stated, "The new Form I-485 and instructions have been substantially updated to reduce complexity after collecting comments from the public and stakeholders." The most notable change is that the updated form incorporates the information from the existing Form G-325A, eliminating the need for a separate form. USCIS also added new admissibility questions and made formatting changes designed to improve the flow, organization, and readability of the form. Finally, the new form includes a list of filing categories from which the applicant will identify the specific category under which he or she is applying for permanent residence. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Mon, 26 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Premium Processing Returns for Certain H-1Bs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/premium_processing_returns_for_certain_h-1bs_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1283 06/23/2017Today, USCIS announced it will resume premium processing on Monday, June 26th for H-1B petitions filed for medical doctors through the Conrad 30 Waiver program. Conrad 30 is a program that allows medical doctors in J-1 status to forego the two-year foreign residence requirement so they can remain in the United States and apply for authorization to work in a medically underserved area. This announcement is consistent with what the CIS Ombudsman's Office said in a teleconference on H-1B processing issues on Tuesday. Specifically, the CIS Ombudsman's Office confirmed that USCIS would resume premium processing incrementally. Regarding when USCIS will resume premium processing for other H-1B petitions, the USCIS announcement noted, "USCIS plans to resume premium processing of other H-1B petitions as workloads permit. We will make additional announcements with specific details related to when we will begin accepting premium processing for those petitions."Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions, and continue to check the Goel & Anderson website for the latest news regarding H-1B processing issues. ]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Incremental Return of Premium Processing http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/summary_of_cis_ombudsman%E2%80%99s_h-1b_teleconference http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1282 06/20/2017Today, the CIS Ombudsman conducted a teleconference with stakeholders on H-1B processing issues. During the call, the panel, which comprised both CIS Ombudsman Office and non-governmental speakers, covered a range of H-1B processing issues. Most notably, the panel discussed the return of premium processing for H-1B petitions. While the panel did not have any updates on when USCIS will lift the suspension of premium processing, the CIS Ombudsman's Office confirmed comments made by Donald Neufeld, Associate Director of Service Center Operations. Specifically, Neufeld said that USCIS will resume premium processing for H-1B petitions incrementally. While USCIS has not announced the criteria it will use to do so, the panel noted that one possibility is that USCIS may initially resume premium processing for only certain petitioners. The panel also discussed the following issues:• H-1B Cap Lottery: USCIS has indicated that it should finish returning all rejected FY2018 H-1B cap petitions within a "month or so". • H-1B Processing Times: The panel discussed current USCIS processing times and how the suspension of premium processing is a loss of revenue that USCIS could use to hire additional staff. Also, the Ombudsman's Office agreed that the discrepancy in processing times across service centers is an issue, while noting that USCIS is aware of the problem and is attempting to transfer workloads to address it.• Expedited Processing Requests: One speaker noted that USCIS has been approving expedited processing requests for petitioners in the medical field during the suspension of premium processing.• Targeted Site Visits: The panel discussed USCIS' April 2017 announcement that it would begin targeted H-1B site visits, with a focus on the purpose of site visits, namely to verify basic information included in the H-1B petition such as whether the beneficiary works at the address listed on Form I-129. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions. ]]> Tue, 20 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson July 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/july_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1281 06/16/2017The Department of State has released the July 2017 Visa Bulletin, which shows the EB-1 and EB-2 categories will remain current across all geographic areas except for India and mainland China. The EB-3 category, meanwhile, will remain retrogressed for all geographic areas, though the EB-3 India category will advance from May 15, 2005 to February 15, 2006. EB-3 China, meanwhile, will retrogress further from October 1, 2014 to January 1, 2012. Finally, EB-3 Philippines will advance from May 1, 2013 to May 15, 2014.Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: The final action date is January 1, 2012 for both India and mainland China. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-2: India's final action date is July 22, 2008 and mainland China's final action date is March 22, 2013. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-3: All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: February 15, 2006China: January 1, 2012Mexico: June 8, 2017Philippines: May 15, 2014El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: June 8, 2017Rest of the World: June 8, 2017You can find a complete copy of the Visa Bulletin here.]]> Fri, 16 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson CIS Ombudsman to Host H-1B Teleconference http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cis_ombudsman_to_host_h-1b_teleconference_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1280 06/14/2017On June 20, 2017, the CIS Ombudsman will host a teleconference from 2:00 to 3:00 pm EST to discuss numerous H-1B issues. According to the announcement, the teleconference will cover the following topics:• The FY2018 H-1B cap lottery;• Petition processing times;• The temporary suspension of premium processing;• The March 31, 2017 USCIS guidance memorandum on computer programmers; and• Other new policy initiatives. The teleconference is open to practitioners, employers, and H-1B beneficiaries. To register, send an e-mail to CISOmbudsman.PublicAffairs@hq.dhs.gov with the subject line "RSVP H-1B Petition Processing Teleconference" and the following details in the body of the e-mail:Please consider this my RSVP for the June 20th H-1B Petition Processing Teleconference. My information is as follows.First Name: Last Name: Title: Organization: Email: Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions.]]> Wed, 14 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Bloomberg BNA Examines H-1B Reform Efforts http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bloomberg_bna_examines_h-1b_reform_efforts http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1276 06/06/2017Last week, the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs ("Bloomberg BNA") published an article entitled, "Skilled Foreign Worker Taking Your Job? It's Legal." In the article, Bloomberg BNA examines when companies can legally replace American employees with foreign workers and efforts to reform the H-1B visa program.For the article, Bloomberg BNA interviewed Goel & Anderson's Managing Partner, Vic Goel, about the value of the H-1B visa program and attempts to reform it. Mr. Goel, who is also the Chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Business Immigration Committee, explained that Congress should proceed with caution. "Acting too quickly and creating unnecessary restrictions often backfires," he said. Mr. Goel elaborated that the IT industry is not the only one that uses an outsourcing model, pointing out that specifically targeting Indian outsourcing companies can have consequences. He questioned, "Do these companies provide any value to our economy? In most cases, the answer is yes." Finally, Mr. Goel noted that, "in terms of overall numbers," the number of American IT workers displaced by H-1B workers "is a miniscule portion of the United States economy." ]]> Tue, 06 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Responds to Senate Requests Regarding H-1B Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_responds_to_senate_requests_regarding_h-1b_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1275 06/05/2017In March, CBS aired a "60 Minutes" special called, "You're Fired," which discussed the H-1B visa program and its impact on American workers. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, then sent a letter to USCIS asking if USCIS had initiated an investigation into the companies mentioned in the special, as well as broader questions related to H-1B compliance enforcement and potential reforms. James McCament, Acting Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), recently responded to each of Senator Grassley's questions. In his response, McCament noted that USCIS has taken part in investigations about the "possible misuse" of the H-1B program by specific companies and their contractors. "USCIS continues to review information from previously filed visa petitions and site visits at these companies and will refer its findings to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if violations of the legal requirements can be substantiated," he said.McCament also reaffirmed USCIS' commitment to conducting targeted H-1B site visits for certain companies, such as H-1B-dependent employers. "...USCIS will take a more targeted approach when conducting site visits across the country of H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees," McCament said. "These targeted site visits will enable USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B-dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers."Regarding reform efforts, McCament addressed President Trump's recent "Buy American, Hire American" Executive Order. He wrote, "Consistent with the Presidential Executive Order on Buy American, Hire American signed on April 18, 2017, USCIS will, as soon as practicable and consistent with applicable law, propose new rules and issue new guidance relating to the H-1B visa program. In particularly, in accordance with the Executive Order, the proposed new rules and guidance would seek to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance in ways that would protect the interests of U.S. workers, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse."]]> Mon, 05 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Consulates Begin More Intensive Vetting Process http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/consulates_begin_more_intensive_vetting_process http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1278 06/02/2017The Washington Post is reporting that Consular Officers have begun using a recently approved supplemental questionnaire to request additional information from visa applicants. The supplemental questionnaire requests information such as:• International travel history for 15 years, including places visited, dates, source of funds for the trip, and length of stay.• Prior passport numbers.• The names and dates of birth for the visa applicant's siblings, children, and spouse.• Addresses and contact information for the past 15 years.• Employment history for the past 15 years.• Username for any account the visa applicant has used to create or share content within the last five years. While the State Department already requests some of these details on visa applications, the supplemental questionnaire asks applicants to provide information dating further back. Additionally, the supplemental questionnaire requests new information, notably social media usernames. Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of each Consular Officer to decide whether it is appropriate to request the supplemental questionnaire from a visa applicant. At the end of the form, though, the State Department notes, "Individuals who fail to submit this form or who do not provide all the requested information may be denied a U.S. visa. Although furnishing this information is voluntary, failure to provide this information may delay or prevent the processing of an individual visa application."]]> Fri, 02 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Clarifies Requirements for H-1B Master's Cap http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_clarifies_eligibility_requirements_for_h-1b_master%E2%80%99s http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1277 06/01/2017Yesterday the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it has adopted the Administrative Appeals Office's (AAO) decision in Matter of A-T-Inc. as policy guidance for all USCIS employees. The adopted decision requires that an individual must have earned a U.S. master's degree from a school that qualified as a U.S. institution of higher education at the time the degree was earned to be eligible for the H-1B U.S. master's cap.Each year the government issues 65,000 new H-1B visas under what is known as the H-1B cap. The Immigration and Nationality Act, however, also allows for the issuance of 20,000 additional H-1B visas to individuals who have received master's degrees from a "United States institution of higher education." In Matter of A-T-Inc., the foreign national received his U.S. master's degree before the school received accreditation as an "institution of higher education." As such, the AAO ruled that this individual was not eligible to be counted under the H-1B U.S. master's quota because the school was not accredited at the time he earned his degree. The AAO also ruled that the petition could not be counted under the regular H-1B cap, saying, "The relevant regulation generally does not permit H-1B petitioners to claim eligibility under alternative grounds."If you have any questions about how these developments could affect your organization, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Thu, 01 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Vic Goel to Speak at AILA Seminar on Recent H-1B Guidance http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/vic_goel_to_speak_at_aila_seminar_on_recent_h-1b_guidance http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1273 05/31/2017Vic Goel, Managing Partner of Goel & Anderson, will appear as an invited speaker in a Legal Education Audio Seminar sponsored by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on Thursday, June 1, 2017.The seminar will feature prominent immigration attorneys in a high-level discussion on the challenges presented by new H-1B guidance for computer programmers. Goel, who is also the AILA Business Immigration Committee Chair, will provide tips and strategies for successfully demonstrating how certain positions can still qualify as a "specialty occupation" following a recent United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy memorandum that may affect the ability of some persons employed as computer programmers to obtain H-1B status.The new policy memorandum, issued on March 31, 2017, revokes a December 22, 2000 memo which stated that computer programmer would generally qualify as a "specialty occupation" and be eligible for approval of an H-1B petition. The new memorandum advises that persons employed as computer programmers, particularly those in entry-level positions, may not necessarily be considered as employed in a "specialty occupation" and may not qualify for H-1B status since a bachelor's degree in a specific field may not be required for the position.While the USCIS states that this is not a change in policy, the language of the memorandum does appear to present new challenges to companies in the IT field. Goel & Anderson remains committed to delivering innovative immigration solutions to the complex legal challenges encountered by clients.Information on how to register for the seminar or purchase audio CD recordings of the series is available through the AILA website. ]]> Wed, 31 May 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson 4th Circuit Court Keeps Revised Travel Ban on Hold http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/4th_circuit_court_keeps_trump%E2%80%99s_revised_travel_ban_on_hold http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1274 05/25/2017In a 10-3 decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has upheld a district court injunction against President Trump's revised travel ban, which would have temporarily barred citizens of six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.It was the first decision from a federal appeals court on the revised travel ban, echoing earlier skepticism by lower federal courts about the legality of President Trump's executive order, which sought to halt immigration for up to 90 days while the government imposed stricter vetting processes.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, concluded in its 205-page ruling that the revised order, issued on March 6th, "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination." The court went on to say, "...we find that Plaintiffs have more than reasonably alleged that EO-2's [Executive Order 2] stated national security interest was provided in bad faith, as a pretext for its religious purpose." The appeals court vote was 10 to 3 and divided along ideological lines, with the three Republican appointees in dissent. Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.Initially, the travel ban suspended entry for travelers from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days, and banned refugees from Syria. The revised order was aimed at softening the original ban, which was almost immediately blocked by lower federal courts. The second order allowed case-by-case exceptions for incoming travelers and lifted the ban from Iraqi travelers.Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project who argued the appeal on behalf of people and groups challenging the revised order, said in a statement that the court's decision vindicates fundamental rights."President Trump's Muslim ban violates the Constitution, as this decision strongly reaffirms," he said. "The Constitution's prohibition on actions disfavoring or condemning any religion is a fundamental protection for all of us, and we can all be glad that the court today rejected the government's request to set that principle aside."In writing for the majority, Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory noted past statements from Trump and his advisers - such as Trump calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States". He also noted that the courts have a role to play in upholding the law."Although the Supreme Court has certainly encouraged deference in our review of immigration matters that implicate national security interests," he wrote, "it has not countenanced judicial abdication, especially where constitutional rights, values and principles are at stake."A second appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California, heard arguments recently in an appeal of a separate injunction and is expected to rule shortly.Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.***UPDATE (06/12/2017): The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a separate injunction against President Trump's revised travel ban. ]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson June 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/june_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1272 05/09/2017Today the Department of State released the June 2017 Visa Bulletin, which shows the EB-1 category will retrogress for India and mainland China for the first time this fiscal year. The final action date for EB-1 India and China will be January 1, 2012. The EB-2 category, meanwhile, is continuing to advance slowly for mainland China and India. Specifically, the final action date for mainland China will advance from February 8, 2013 to March 1, 2013, and the final action date for EB-2 India will advance from June 22, 2008 to July 1, 2008. All EB-3 categories continue to have retrogressed final action dates. Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: The final action date is January 1, 2012 for both India and mainland China. All other geographic areas have a current final action date.EB-2: India's final action date is July 1, 2008 and mainland China's final action date is March 1, 2013. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-3: All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: May 15, 2005China: October 1, 2014Mexico: April 15, 2017Philippines: May 1, 2013El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: April 15, 2017Rest of the World: April 15, 2017You can find a complete copy of the Visa Bulletin here.]]> Tue, 09 May 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Completes FY2018 H-1B Cap Data Entry http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_completes_fy2018_h-1b_cap_data_entry http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1271 05/03/2017Today USCIS announced it has completed data entry for all H-1B cap petitions selected in the Fiscal Year 2018 lottery. USCIS will now begin returning petitions not selected in the lottery, which will include the filing fees. In its e-mail to stakeholders, USCIS noted, "Due to the high volume of filings, USCIS is unable to provide a definite time frame for returning these petitions. USCIS asks petitioners not to inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned."In its announcement, USCIS also noted that it is transferring some H-1B cap-subject petitions from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center to balance the distribution of cap cases. When transferring cases, USCIS sends a notification by mail confirming which USCIS office now has jurisdiction over the case.]]> Wed, 03 May 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Shares Scam Alert http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_shares_scam_alert http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1270 04/26/2017Today USCIS shared a scam alert from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General ("DHS OIG"), alerting stakeholders to a phone scam. The Office of Inspector General announced that scammers have recently used its hotline phone number (I-800-323-8603) to obtain personal information from victims, while pretending to be U.S. immigration officials. In its fraud alert, DHS OIG confirmed that it only uses its hotline number to receive calls. In sharing this fraud alert, USCIS similarly confirmed that it will never ask for payment via phone or e-mail. Rather, USCIS will issue a written notice on official stationery if payment is required. Additionally, USCIS noted that anyone can call the National Customer Service Center at I-800-375-5283 to confirm if a call is from USCIS or inquire about case status. ]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Trump Signs "Buy American and Hire American" Order http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/trump_signs_%E2%80%9Cbuy_american_and_hire_american%E2%80%9D_executive_o http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1267 04/19/2017Yesterday afternoon President Trump signed an Executive Order ("EO") called, "Buy American and Hire American" during his visit to the headquarters of Snap-on Tools in Wisconsin. In speaking at the event, the President said, "We believe jobs must be offered to American workers first." He then claimed there is widespread abuse of the H-1B program and said reform is long overdue. The President's EO defines "Hire American" as follows: "In order to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to rigorously enforce and administer the laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad..."The EO then instructs the Departments of State, Justice, Labor, and Homeland Security to "propose new rules and issue new guidance... to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse". Additionally, in a reference to the existing H-1B lottery system, it calls for the same departments to "suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries". Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how these developments could affect your organization.]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Announces Redesigned Green Cards and EADs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_announces_redesigned_green_cards_and_eads http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1269 04/19/2017Today USCIS announced it will begin issuing redesigned Permanent Resident Cards, commonly known as green cards, and Employment Authorization Documents ("EADs") starting May 1, 2017. The redesigned cards will display the applicant's photograph on both sides and will include embedded holographic images, though they will no longer display the applicant's signature. In the announcement, USCIS noted that it may issue green cards and EADs in the existing format after May 1st, as USCIS will continue to use the existing format until its current supply of cards is exhausted. USCIS confirmed that both new and existing cards will remain valid until the expiration date listed on the cards. ]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Completes H-1B Cap Lottery for FY2018 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_completes_h-1b_cap_lottery_for_fy2018 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1266 04/17/2017Today USCIS announced it received 199,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2018, including petitions filed under the U.S. master's cap. USCIS also announced it performed the computer-run lottery on April 11th to select petitions for processing among those it received during the filing period that ended on April 7th. USCIS will issue receipt notices for petitions selected in the lottery and return all petitions, including the filing fees, not selected in the lottery.]]> Mon, 17 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson May 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/may_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1268 04/11/2017Today the Department of State released the May 2017 Visa Bulletin, which shows the EB-1 category will remain current across all geographic areas. The EB-2 category is continuing to advance slowly for mainland China. Specifically, the final action date for mainland China will advance from January 15, 2013 to February 8, 2013. The final action date for EB-2 India, however, remains June 22, 2008. All EB-3 categories, meanwhile, continue to have retrogressed final action dates. Notably, the EB-2 India final action date only advanced one day. Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: Current across all geographic areas.EB-2: India's final action date is June 22, 2008 and mainland China's final action date is February 8, 2013. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-3: All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: March 25, 2005China: October 1, 2014Mexico: March 15, 2017Philippines: January 1, 2013El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: March 15, 2017Rest of the World: March 15, 2017You can find a complete copy of the Visa Bulletin here.]]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DOL Withdraws FAQs on PERM Job Requirements http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dol_withdraws_faqs_on_perm_job_requirements http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1264 04/10/2017Goel & Anderson attorney Lisa Locke commented on the recent decision by the Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification ("OFLC") to temporarily remove a controversial new Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs") document from its website. Originally published on March 6th, the FAQs instructed that an employer must "define its [actual minimum job] requirements with respect to each skill listed" in Section H.14 of the labor certification application (ETA Form 9089), or risk denial of the application. In a blog article titled, "DOL's OFLC to ‘Clarify and Republish' Withdrawn PERM Drafting ‘Guidance'", Locke offers an analysis of why the FAQs were problematic and what DOL needs to consider before they are reissued. The full article and additional commentary on immigration issues are available at The Immigration Channel, a blog published by Goel & Anderson.]]> Mon, 10 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Updates Forms I-129F, I-290B, and I-526 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_forms_i-129f%2C_i-290b%2C_and_i-526 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1265 04/10/2017Today USCIS released new versions of Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e); Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion; and Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. The new edition date for each form is 04/10/2017. Effective June 9, 2017, USCIS will only accept the new editions of the forms. USCIS will continue to accept the 12/23/2016 editions of the forms in the meantime. For a summary of all USCIS form changes, see the USCIS Forms Updates page.
 
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Mon, 10 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
FY2018 H-1B Cap Reached http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/fy2018_h-1b_cap_reached http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1263 04/07/2017Today USCIS announced it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet the H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2018, including the U.S. master's cap.There is a Congressionally-mandated limit of 65,000 new H-1B visas per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 visas available for beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master's degree. USCIS will now use a computer-run lottery system to select petitions for processing among those it received within the first five business days of the filing period. This year, that five-day period covers all properly-filed H-1B cap petitions received by USCIS from April 3rd through April 7th. USCIS will return all petitions, including the filing fees, not selected in the lottery. ]]> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Government Agencies Issue Warnings about H-1B Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/government_issues_warnings_about_h-1b_program_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1262 04/05/2017This week, as the Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B cap filing period began, the federal government made several announcements warning H-1B employers to not discriminate against U.S. workers.On Monday, USCIS announced that it will immediately begin conducting targeted H-1B site visits, with emphasis on companies who are H-1B-dependent or place their workers at third-party worksites. Prior to this announcement, USCIS only conducted random site visits, which it will continue to do in conjunction with the targeted site visits. In making the announcement, USCIS noted, "Protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programs is a priority for USCIS."The Department of Justice then issued a press release in which it "cautioned employers petitioning for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers." The Department of Justice further noted, "The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally prohibits employers from discriminating against U.S. workers because of their citizenship or national origin in hiring, firing and recruiting. Employers violate the INA if they have a discriminatory hiring preference that favors H-1B visa holders over U.S. workers." Finally, yesterday, the Department of Labor ("DOL") issued a press release emphasizing its plan "to protect U.S. workers from H-1B program discrimination by providing greater transparency and oversight." DOL noted it "fully supports the U.S. Department of Justice in cautioning employers who petition for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers, as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse." In terms of its specific plans, DOL said it will consider changing the existing Labor Condition Application and "rigorously use all of its existing authority to initiate investigations of H-1B program violators." Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how these developments could affect your organization. ]]> Wed, 05 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS to Conduct Targeted H-1B Site Visits http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_conduct_targeted_h-1b_site_visits http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1261 04/03/2017Today USCIS announced in an e-mail to stakeholders that it will begin conducting targeted H-1B site visits in addition to the random site visits it already performs. In its announcement, USCIS defined three priorities for these targeted site visits:1) Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer's basic business information through commercially available data;2) H-1B-dependent employers; and3) Employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work offsite at another company or organization's location. Whether a company is H-1B-dependent depends on the size of the company and how many of its U.S. workers are employed in H-1B status. Specifically, a company is H-1B-dependent if it has: • 25 or fewer full-time employees and at least 8 H-1B workers;• 26 to 50 full-time employees and at least 13 H-1B workers; or• 51 or more full-time employees, with 15% or more of the employees working in H-1B status. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how this change could affect your organization. ]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Bloomberg BNA Examines the Gig Economy and Immigration http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/bloomberg_bna_examines_the_gig_economy_and_immigration http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1260 03/31/2017Yesterday, the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs ("Bloomberg BNA") published an article entitled, "The Gig is Up: Immigration Implications for the New Workforce". In this article, Bloomberg BNA examines immigration compliance issues in the gig economy - a labor market characterized by independent contractors moving from one project to another, as opposed to taking permanent, full-time jobs. For the article, Bloomberg BNA interviewed Goel & Anderson's Managing Partner, Vic Goel, about the immigration implications of the gig economy. Mr. Goel, who is also the Chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Business Immigration Committee, explained that companies must have a legitimate reason to classify a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee, which exempts the company from I-9 compliance obligations. Mr. Goel elaborated that "it's important to consult with immigration counsel as well as employment counsel in terms of making that determination". Furthermore, he noted that it is still illegal for a company to knowingly hire an independent contractor who is not authorized to work in the United States.Mr. Goel noted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") is aware of the gig economy trend and of the perception that the gig economy could tempt companies to use the independent contractor designation to avoid I-9 responsibilities. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, employers are required to verify an employee's identity and work authorization within three days of hiring the worker and document it on Form I-9. While the I-9 process is routine, the cost of not properly documenting I-9 compliance can be staggering for violators. In the event of an audit, ICE can levy a fine of up to $1,100 per violation for uncorrected violations, such as a missing signature on an I-9 form. For example, last year ICE fined a California company $87,422 for I-9 violations, though a judge ultimately reduced the fine to $56,150. Goel & Anderson offers companies a range of Compliance Solutions, which encompass E-Verify and Form I-9 Compliance. For more information, you can request a consultation from a Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Hawaii Federal Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/hawaii_judge_converts_travel_ban_restraining_order_into_inju http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1259 03/30/2017Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson converted his temporary restraining order against President Trump's travel ban into a preliminary injunction. Under federal court rules, temporary restraining orders expire after fourteen days. Judge Watson could have extended the temporary restraining order or let it expire. In issuing the preliminary injunction, however, Judge Watson indefinitely prohibited the federal government from implementing Sections 2 and 6 of the President's March 6th Executive Order. Section 2 prohibited travel from six designated countries, and Section 6 suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. In issuing the injunction, Judge Watson maintained his prior determination that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their case, which he largely based on statements President Trump made prior to signing the original travel ban order. In doing so, Judge Watson rejected the government's argument that the Court should grant deference to the President's authority and not look beyond the Executive Order itself. Specifically, Judge Watson wrote that the historical context and preceding events which the government seeks to avoid, namely President Trump's previous statements, "are... full of religious animus, invective, and obvious pretext...". He then noted that "it is no wonder that the Government urges the Court to altogether ignore that history and context. The Court, however, declines to do so."Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Thu, 30 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Launches EB-5 Regional Center Compliance Audit Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_launches_eb-5_regional_center_compliance_audit_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1258 03/21/2017Today, USCIS announced in an e-mail to stakeholders the launch of an EB-5 Regional Center Compliance Audit Program. In the announcement, USCIS said, "Regional center compliance audits are an additional way to enhance program integrity and verify information in regional center applications and annual certifications. These audits will verify compliance with applicable laws and authorities to ensure continued eligibility for the regional center designation." USCIS noted that the audit team will perform activities such as conducting site visits, interviewing personnel to confirm information in applications, and verifying supporting documents submitted with applications. For more information, please see the EB-5 Regional Center Compliance Audits page on the USCIS website. ]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Judge Dismisses H-1B Cap Lottery Lawsuit http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/judge_dismisses_h-1b_cap_lottery_lawsuit_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1256 03/20/2017On Friday, March 17th, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon dismissed a class action lawsuit, Walker Macy et al. v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), which alleged USCIS' H-1B cap lottery system violates federal law. In the case, originally filed as Tenrec et al. v. USCIS, a company and the foreign national for whom it filed a cap-subject H-1B petition on April 1st last year sued USCIS, claiming that the H-1B cap lottery system is arbitrary and capricious. There is a Congressionally-mandated numerical limitation on new H-1B visa petitions of 65,000 per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 available for foreign nationals who have earned U.S. Master's degrees. Whenever USCIS receives more petitions than the allotted numbers, USCIS enters all petitions received within the first five business days of the filing period, which begins April 1st each year, into a computer-generated lottery system to determine which petitions are accepted and which are rejected. The plaintiffs wanted USCIS to replace its existing lottery system with a first-come, first-serve system that would prioritize previously rejected applicants by placing them on a waitlist. In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge Simon gave deference to USCIS' judgment on how to handle large volumes of filed cases, noting that the Immigration and Nationality Act does not define what it means for a petition to be filed or how to handle simultaneously-filed petitions. He also noted that Congress has previously considered but not passed legislation that would have abolished the lottery system. Furthermore, Judge Simon concluded that any attempt to accept petitions in the order they are physically received at USCIS would not be less arbitrary than the existing lottery system. Specifically, he wrote, "...because Congress left to the discretion of USCIS how to handle simultaneous submissions, even if petitions are considered ‘filed' immediately upon delivery, USCIS has discretion to decide how best to order those petitions. Plaintiffs offer no suggestion of how to order 150,000 petitions being delivered on the same day that is less arbitrary than a random computer selection. If a carrier delivers bags of envelopes containing petitions, it is just as arbitrary to order them based on how the envelopes are removed from the delivery bag as it is to randomly select the petitions from a computer." ]]> Mon, 20 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Another Federal Judge Rules Against Travel Ban http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/another_federal_judge_rules_against_travel_ban http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1255 03/16/2017This morning, Maryland District Court Judge Theodore Chuang issued a preliminary injunction against part of President Trump's new travel ban, originally scheduled to take effect today. The injunction only covers Section 2(c) of the Executive Order, which is the part that would have banned travel from six designated countries. Judge Chuang denied the plaintiffs' motion that the injunction cover the entire Executive Order. Late yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary restraining order on Sections 2 and 6 of the President's March 6th Executive Order, preventing them from taking effect as scheduled. Judge Chuang's order, however, is important in that a preliminary injunction is different from a temporary restraining order. Unless it is reversed on appeal, Judge Chuang's injunction will remain in place for the duration of the case. Judge Watson, meanwhile, could decide not to extend the temporary restraining order for the entire duration of the case before him. In issuing the injunction, Judge Chuang found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their case and would likely suffer irreparable harm if Section 2(c) of Executive Order took effect. In doing so, he rejected the government's argument that national security concerns drove President Trump's Executive Order, rather than religious discrimination. Specifically, Judge Chuang wrote, "In this highly unique case, the record provides strong indication that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose for the travel ban." He also noted, "Defendants do not... contest that this record of public statements reveals a religious motivation for the travel ban." Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Thu, 16 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Hawaii Federal Judge Blocks New Travel Ban http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/hawaii_federal_judge_blocks_new_travel_ban http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1254 03/15/2017U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson has issued a temporary restraining order on President Trump's new travel ban, scheduled to take effect at 12:01 am EST tomorrow. Judge Watson's order prohibits the federal government from implementing Sections 2 and 6 of the President's March 6th Executive Order. Section 2 prohibited travel from six designated countries, while Section 6 suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.In issuing the temporary restraining order, Judge Watson found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their case and would likely suffer irreparable harm if the Executive Order took effect. In doing so, he rejected the government's argument that the President's Executive Order did not discriminate against Muslims. Specifically, he rejected the government's contention that the Executive Order was not discriminatory because it did not apply exclusively to Muslims. "The illogic of the Government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. The Court declines to relegate its Establishment Clause analysis to a purely mathematical exercise." Judge Watson further noted, "The record before this Court is unique. It includes significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the Executive Order and its related predecessor." Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Posts Wrong Form I-765 Online http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_posts_wrong_form_i-765_online_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1253 03/14/2017Today USCIS sent stakeholders the following e-mail: "Over the past day, Form I-765V was posted in place of Form I-765, on the I-765 webpage. If you are filing Form I-765, please confirm you have downloaded the correct Form I-765."Form I-765V is the Application for Employment Authorization for Abused Nonimmigrant Spouse. To verify whether you downloaded the correct Form I-765 from the USCIS website, look at the bottom of the form, where USCIS notes the form type. The current Edition Date of Form I-765, a two-page form, is 01/17/2017. Form I-765V, meanwhile, is a six-page form and currently has an edition date of 01/19/2017.]]> Tue, 14 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Department of State Publishes Travel Ban FAQs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/department_of_state_publishes_travel_ban_faqs_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1252 03/13/2017Today the Department of State published Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs") regarding President Trump's new travel ban, which takes effect on Thursday, March 16th. The FAQs reiterated key changes in the President's revised travel ban, such as how it does not apply to lawful permanent residents or dual nationals traveling on passports issued by unrestricted countries. Through the FAQs, moreover, the Department of State clarified important issues. First, it will not cancel any previously scheduled visa appointments. Anyone who is subject to the travel ban and wishes to apply for a waiver should schedule a visa appointment and explain the circumstances to the consular officer. Furthermore, any foreign nationals whose visas were physically marked as cancelled solely based on the President's January 27th Executive Order are eligible to apply for a travel document. Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Mon, 13 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson April 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/april_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1251 03/10/2017The Department of State released the April 2017 Visa Bulletin today, which shows the EB-1 category will remain current across all geographic areas. The EB-2 category is continuing to show very little advancement for mainland China and India. Specifically, the final action date for mainland China will advance from December 15, 2012 to January 15, 2013, while it will only move forward from June 1, 2008 to June 22, 2008 for India. All EB-3 categories, meanwhile, continue to have retrogressed final action dates. Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: Current across all geographic areas.EB-2: India's final action date is June 22, 2008 and mainland China's final action date is January 15, 2013. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-3: All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: March 24, 2005China: August 15, 2014Mexico: February 15, 2017Philippines: September 15, 2012El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: February 15, 2017Rest of the World: February 15, 2017You can find a complete copy of the Visa Bulletin here.]]> Fri, 10 Mar 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Suspending H-1B Premium Processing http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_suspending_h-1b_premium_processing_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1249 03/06/2017Late Friday afternoon USCIS announced that it will suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3, 2017. The suspension could last up to six months.In its announcement, USCIS said it is suspending premium processing to prioritize long-pending petitions and H-1B extension of status cases approaching the end of the automatic 240-day period of work authorization. USCIS issued two important reminders in its announcement. First, any petitioner that files an H-1B petition with a check that combines the filing fees and premium processing fee will have the entire case rejected as improperly filed. Second, USCIS iterated that, while premium processing is suspended, petitioners can request expedited processing if they meet certain criteria. If you have any questions about how this change could affect your organization, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Mon, 06 Mar 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Trump Issues New Travel Ban http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/trump_issues_new_travel_ban http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1250 03/06/2017Today, President Trump signed a new Executive Order ("EO") that will replace his original travel ban order. The new order will take effect at 12:01 am EST on March 16, 2017, at which time the original January 27th order will be revoked. This new order seeks to address the myriad issues encountered with the original order by providing several clarifications and exemptions. Specifically, the new travel ban states: • Lawful permanent residents, commonly known as green card holders, are exempt from the travel ban. • Anyone who held a valid visa as of 5:00 pm EST on January 27, 2017, and still has a valid visa, is exempt from the travel ban. The order also notes, "Any prior cancellation or revocation of a visa that was solely pursuant to Executive Order 13769 [the January 27th EO] shall not be the basis of inadmissibility for any future determination about entry or admissibility."• Iraq is no longer a banned country. Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen will still face a ninety-day travel ban from the effective date of the order.• Dual nationals of banned countries are not subject to the travel ban if they are traveling using a passport issued by a non-designated country.• Foreign nationals with travel documents other than visas, such as Advance Parole, are exempt from the travel ban. Consular and CBP officers, moreover, will have the discretion to grant waivers for the issuance of visas and admission into the United States on a case-by-case basis for business and humanitarian reasons. For example, foreign nationals who previously entered the United States for a long-term period of work or study may be eligible for waivers if they are outside the United States on the effective date and seek to reenter the United States to resume their work or study. Also, if the foreign national is a young child or in need of urgent medical care, then he or she may qualify for a waiver. For a full list of exceptions to the travel ban and possible waivers, please refer to the full text of the EO. With respect to refugees, the new EO does not indefinitely suspend the Syrian refugee program. Rather, the new travel ban suspends the admission of all refugees under the United States Refugee Admissions Program ("USRAP") for 120 days and caps the number of refugee admissions at 50,000 for Fiscal Year 2017. Refugees who schedule their travel to the United States before the effective date of the EO, however, will not be subject to the travel ban.Finally, the President's EO suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program. Specifically, the order states that "all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa [must] undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions." Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Mon, 06 Mar 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Updates Forms I-130 and I-693 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_forms_i-130_and_i-693 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1247 02/28/2017Yesterday, USCIS released new versions of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative and Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. The edition dates are 02/27/2017 and 02/07/2017, respectively. Effective April 28, 2017, USCIS will only accept the current editions of the forms. USCIS will continue to accept previous editions of the forms in the meantime. For a summary of all USCIS form changes, see the USCIS Forms Updates page. ]]> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Releases Updated I-9 Employer Handbook http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releases_updated_i-9_employer_handbook http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1248 02/28/2017Today USCIS released an updated version of the M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9. The updated version reflects changes USCIS made to Form I-9 in November. To download a copy of the handbook, go the I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification page on the USCIS website. ]]> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Trump to Issue New Executive Order http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/trump_to_issue_new_executive_order http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1246 02/17/2017Yesterday, President Trump announced in a press conference that he intends to sign a new Executive Order next week to replace his embattled travel ban order. In addressing the legal setbacks his administration has faced with the existing Executive Order, Trump confirmed he plans to issue a "new and very comprehensive" order next week. President Trump's announcement is consistent with a supplemental brief the Department of Justice filed yesterday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court had been considering whether to conduct an en banc review, or a review by the entire court, of the three-judge panel's decision to keep the temporary restraining order on the travel ban in place. In its brief, the Department of Justice asked the court to not hold an en banc hearing and instead wait for the President to issue a new Executive Order. Specifically, the brief states, "...the United States does not seek an en banc review of the merits of the panel's ruling. Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the [existing Executive] Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate... constitutional concerns."Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson 43 New Form Editions Required Next Week http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/43_new_form_editions_required_next_week http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1245 02/13/2017On December 23rd, USCIS made unannounced changes to 44 different forms and, with the exception of only one form, published them with an immediate effective date. The next week, on December 29th, USCIS clarified that it would continue accepting previous editions of the updated forms during a grace period, during which time USCIS again updated four of the forms. As a reminder, the grace period will end next week. Starting February 21st, USCIS will only accept the current edition of 43 different forms. USCIS will reject as improperly filed any petition or application that does not include the correct form edition. Form I-129 is the only form among the 44 originally updated on December 23rd for which USCIS will continue to accept previous editions. Below is a list of key form updates, including the edition dates USCIS will accept once the grace period has ended.• Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (01/17/2017, 12/23/2016, 08/13/2015, 03/26/2015, and 10/23/2014)• Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (01/17/2017)• Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (01/17/2017)• Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status (12/23/2016)• Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (01/17/2017)• Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (12/23/2016)• Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (12/23/2016)• Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition (12/23/2016)• Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion (12/23/2016)• Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur (12/23/2016)• Form N-400, Application for Naturalization (12/23/2016) You can find a complete breakdown of all USCIS form updates on the USCIS website. To confirm the current edition date of any form, click on the name of the form on this list and then select "Edition Date".]]> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson March 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/march_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1244 02/10/2017The Department of State has released the March 2017 Visa Bulletin, which shows the EB-1 category will remain current across all geographic areas. The EB-2 category will advance slowly for mainland China and India. Specifically, the final action date for mainland China will advance from November 15, 2012 to December 15, 2012, while it will move forward from April 15, 2008 to June 1, 2008 for India. All EB-3 categories, meanwhile, continue to have retrogressed final action dates. Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: Current across all geographic areas.EB-2: India's final action date is June 1, 2008 and mainland China's final action date is December 15, 2012. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-3: All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: March 22, 2005China: March 15, 2014Mexico: December 1, 2016Philippines: March 15, 2012El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: December 1, 2016Rest of the World: December 1, 2016You can find a complete copy of the Visa Bulletin here.]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Appeals Court Keeps Travel Ban On Hold http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/appeals_court_keeps_travel_ban_on_hold http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1243 02/10/2017Last night, a randomly selected three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously denied the Trump Administration's request to lift U.S. District Court Judge James Robart's temporary restraining order on the travel ban. The judges had previously refused to issue a stay on the restraining order prior to a hearing. In the decision, the judges ruled against the government on the issue of due process. Specifically, they noted that the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution grants due process rights to everyone in the United States, not just citizens, and even to certain foreign nationals attempting to reenter the country. With respect to the government's argument on national security, the decision notes, "The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the [Executive] Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States. Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the Executive Order, the Government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all. We disagree..." With this decision, the Trump Administration has two remaining appeal options. It can appeal to the entire Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, or it can bypass that option and appeal directly to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the travel ban remains on hold as the underlying case progresses in District Court.Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Travel Ban Put on Hold http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/travel_ban_put_on_hold http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1242 02/06/2017Late Friday, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart issued a nationwide temporary restraining order that prohibits the government from enforcing key portions of the President's January 27th executive order, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States". Specifically, the temporary restraining order covers the following sections of the executive order:• Section 3(c): The travel ban.• Section 5(a): The 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. • Section 5(b): The prioritization of refugee claims, upon the resumption of refugee admissions, of religious-based claims of persecution where the foreign national's religion is a minority religion in the country of origin. • Section 5(c): The indefinite suspension of the Syrian refugee program. • Section 5(e): National interest standard for the admission of refugees fleeing religious persecution during the suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.On Saturday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Department of Justice's request to immediately put Judge Robart's temporary restraining order on hold. Thus, as of now, the affected portions of the President's executive order are not in effect. The Department of Justice confirmed on Saturday that it "has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order..." The Department of State, meanwhile, confirmed it has reinstated all visas it provisionally revoked based on the executive order and resumed processing visa applications from those affected by the travel ban. Foreign nationals whose visas were physically cancelled, however, will have to apply for new visas. Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Update on Visa Interview Waiver Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/update_on_visa_interview_waiver_program http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1240 02/03/2017When President Trump implemented the travel ban last Friday, the executive order he signed also suspended the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows certain foreign nationals to obtain visas without attending an in-person visa interview. Specifically, the President's executive order stated, "The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to certain statutory exceptions."The American Immigration Lawyers Association received confirmation from the Department of State that most visa applicants with statutory visa interview exceptions can still obtain interview waivers, which is also known as "dropbox" processing. Specifically, anyone under the age of the 14 or over the age of 79 remains eligible for an interview waiver. Additionally, foreign nationals applying for a visa in the same classification and within twelve months of the expiration of a prior visa are eligible for an interview waiver. Ultimately, however, granting the waiver is up to the discretion of the consular officer. Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.Source: American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA Doc. No. 16112144.]]> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Travel Ban Update for Dual Nationals http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/travel_ban_update_for_dual_nationals http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1241 Travel Ban
Update for Dual Nationals

02/02/2017

When
President Trump implemented a travel ban on certain countries last Friday, the
executive order he signed did not clearly define what it means to be "from" a
banned country. Today, the Department of State issued an alert clarifying the
issue. The alert states, "This Executive Order
does not restrict the travel of dual nationals from any country with a valid
U.S. visa in a passport of an unrestricted country. Our Embassies and
Consulates around the world will continue to process visa applications and
issue nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to otherwise eligible visa applicants
who apply with a passport from an unrestricted country, even if they hold dual
nationality from one of the seven restricted countries."

The
Department of State's alert is consistent with recent updates from the Department
of Homeland Security. Specifically, Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") posted
FAQs about the travel ban online. In the FAQs, CBP notes, "Travelers are
being treated according to the travel document they present." Regarding
dual nationality, the FAQs state the following: "Dual nationals with a
valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visa in a passport issued by any country not
restricted under the Executive Order will be permitted to apply for admission
to the United States."

Goel
& Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant
updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson
attorney.


]]>
Thu, 02 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CBP Posts Travel Ban Statistics and FAQs http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cbp_posts_travel_ban_statistics_and_faqs http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1239 02/01/2017During his first week in office, President Trump issued several controversial executive orders related to immigration, including a travel ban on foreign nationals from seven countries. Yesterday, Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") published statistics and Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs") pertaining to the travel ban, which affects foreign nationals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.CBP's FAQs are notable in two respects. First, they provide further information about how CBP is treating green card holders. While the travel ban technically applies to green card holders, John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security, confirmed on Sunday that he considers their admission to be in the national interest, making them eligible for waivers. In its FAQs, CBP confirms it has only denied entry to one green card holder, who CBP placed into removal proceedings based on a criminal record, as a result of the President's executive order. CBP clarified that a second traveler withdrew his application for admission and returned to Canada. In the FAQs, CBP also addresses the issue of what it means to be "from" one of the banned countries. Specifically, CBP notes, "Travelers are being treated according to the travel document they present." Regarding dual nationality, the FAQs state the following: "Dual nationals with a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visa in a passport issued by any country not restricted under the Executive Order will be permitted to apply for admission to the United States." CBP, however, has not provided any statistics on whether it has denied entry to travelers with dual nationality and, if so, how many times.Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.]]> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Week in Review: Trump's Executive Orders http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/week_in_review%3A_trump%E2%80%99s_executive_orders http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1238 Review: Trump's Executive Orders01/30/2017

During his
first week in office, President Trump issued several controversial executive
orders ("EO") related to immigration. Below is a timeline of what has happened
since Trump took office.

Wednesday
(01/25/2017):
President Trump signed two EOs. Through the EO entitled "Border Security and
Immigration Enforcement Improvements"
, the President directed the Secretary of
the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), John Kelly, to begin the process
of building a wall along the United States-Mexico border. Specifically, the EO
directs the DHS Secretary to "take all appropriate steps to immediately plan,
design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border..." Trump also ordered
Secretary Kelly to allocate federal funds for the multi-billion-dollar project.
In addition to building the wall, the EO also ordered the end of "catch and
release", requiring that anyone apprehended for violating immigration laws be
detained for the duration of their removal proceedings. Finally, the EO calls
for the hiring of 5,000 additional border patrol agents and the construction of
new detention facilities along the border.

On
Wednesday, President Trump also signed the "Enhancing Public Safety in the
Interior of the United States"
 EO. In this EO, Trump defines criteria by which
DHS should prioritize removals. Trump also addresses "sanctuary cities", or municipalities that do not help the federal government enforce immigration laws. Trump's EO directs the federal government to withhold federal grants from jurisdictions designated as "sanctuary cities" by DHS. This
EO also calls for the hiring of 10,000 new immigration officers.

Friday
(01/27/2017):
President Trump signed EO "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry
into the United States"
. The EO suspends visa issuance to and entry of all
foreign nationals from the following
countries for 90 days: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The
EO also indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees and suspends the
overall U.S. refugee program for 120 days. Finally, the order indefinitely
suspends the visa interview waiver program, which allows certain foreign
nationals to obtain visas without attending an in-person visa interview.

Saturday
(01/28/2017): A
federal judge in New York, Ann Donnelly, blocked part of the travel ban.
Specifically, Judge Donnelly issued a stay on Friday's EO prohibiting the
government from deporting any detained immigrants with valid green cards,
non-immigrant visas, or approved refugee applications. Judges in Virginia,
Washington, and Massachusetts subsequently issued similar rulings.

DHS
confirmed that, at the time of Judge Donnelly's order, it had denied entry to
109 travelers
, though it would not specify how many it had already sent back to
their home countries.

Sunday (01/29/2017): In response to the lawsuits, DHS
released a statement Sunday afternoon. While stating DHS would comply with
judicial orders, the statement noted, "The Department of Homeland Security will
continue to enforce all of the president's Executive Orders... The president's
Executive Orders remain in place..." That release was in line with a White House
spokesperson's statement
that Saturday's court ruling did not change the
President's EO.

Secretary
Kelly released a statement later Sunday in which he declared "the entry of
lawful permanent residents [green card holders] to be in the national
interest." He went on to say, "Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant
derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and
welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our
case-by-case determinations." Secretary Kelly's statement directly contradicted
President Trump's EO, which specifically noted that both immigrant and
non-immigrant entry into the United States from banned countries "would be
detrimental to the interests of the United States..."

CNN
reported
that, according a statement from the DHS Press Secretary on Sunday
evening, no one "from the initial group affected by the travel ban executive
order" is currently being detained.

---

While
many details set forth in these EOs remain to be fleshed out, it is clear that
the Trump Administration intends to place an increased emphasis on immigration
enforcement, particularly in regard to the removal of those who have been
convicted of crimes and those who have been charged with crimes. While the
Administration is expected to provide more information about its enforcement
priorities in the days ahead, it is expected that there will also be an
increase in efforts to remove persons who have overstayed after a lawful entry.

Goel
& Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If
you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.

]]>
Mon, 30 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Changes Some I-140 Filing Locations http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_changes_some_i-140_filing http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1236 01/20/2017In an e-mail to stakeholders late yesterday afternoon, USCIS announced it is changing the direct filing addresses for certain I-140 petitions. Specifically, the filing location is changing for I-140 petitions filed under premium processing with a worksite located in any of the following states:• Maryland• New Jersey• Pennsylvania• TennesseeEffective immediately, petitioners should file premium processing I-140s with the USCIS Texas Service Center if the worksite is in Maryland, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. If the work location is in Tennessee, then the I-140 should be filed with the USCIS Nebraska Service Center. The complete direct filing addresses can be found here.]]> Fri, 20 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Ombudsman Calls for Changes to Processing Time Reports http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ombudsman_calls_for_changes_to_processing_time_reports http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1237 01/17/2017On January 5, 2017, USCIS announced that it would begin using a standardized format for case processing time reports. Today, in response to that change, the CIS Ombudsman is calling on USCIS to provide stakeholders with real-time case processing data.The Ombudsman's Office noted that USCIS' current practice usually leaves a 45-day gap between processing time information and when USCIS actually publishes the information. In calling for USCIS to improve the process, the Ombudsman states, "Processing times should use real-time data that accurately reflect the time it takes USCIS to perform adjudications, as well as the number or percentage of applications/petitions that fall outside the posted processing time. More accurate processing times will go a long way to setting realistic expectations for individuals and employers, and measuring the agency's success in meeting stated processing goals."--- UPDATE (02/09/2017): In an e-mail to stakeholders, USCIS announced that it will hold a national teleconference on USCIS' online case processing times. The announcement stated, "USCIS seeks to improve accuracy and transparency, and minimize the potential for confusion about processing times. During this engagement, subject matter experts will ask for feedback from participants and answer questions."The teleconference will take place on Wednesday, Februay 15th from 1 to 2 pm EST. ]]> Tue, 17 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1231 01/13/2017Today, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published advance notice on the Federal Register of proposed rule-making for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Through this advance notice, which follows advance notice published on Wednesday about the Regional Center Program, DHS is seeking public input on several issues affecting the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program prior to issuing a proposed rule, including:1) Priority date retention for EB-5 petitioners2) Increases to minimum investment amounts3) Revisions to the targeted employment area designation process4) Revisions to the filing and interview process for removal of conditions on lawful permanent residenceNotably, DHS is proposing raising the minimum investment required to be eligible for an immigrant visa through the EB-5 program. Specifically, the rule would raise the minimum investment threshold from $1 million to $1.8 million (and from $500,000 to $1.35 million for targeted employment areas). Additionally, DHS plans to eliminate the authority of a state to designate targeted employment areas. Under the new guidelines, cities or towns with high unemployment (at least 150% of the national average) and populations of at least 20,000 would qualify as targeted employment areas. DHS, and not the states, would make further targeted employment area designations. DHS is requesting input by April 11, 2017. ]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1232 01/13/2017Today, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published advance notice on the Federal Register of proposed rule-making for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Through this advance notice, which follows advance notice published on Wednesday about the Regional Center Program, DHS is seeking public input on several issues affecting the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program prior to issuing a proposed rule, including:1) Priority date retention for EB-5 petitioners2) Increases to minimum investment amounts3) Revisions to the targeted employment area designation process4) Revisions to the filing and interview process for removal of conditions on lawful permanent residenceNotably, DHS is proposing raising the minimum investment required to be eligible for an immigrant visa through the EB-5 program. Specifically, the rule would raise the minimum investment threshold from $1 million to $1.8 million (and from $500,000 to $1.35 million for targeted employment areas). Additionally, DHS plans to eliminate the authority of a state to designate targeted employment areas. Under the new guidelines, cities or towns with high unemployment (at least 150% of the national average) and populations of at least 20,000 would qualify as targeted employment areas. DHS, and not the states, would make further targeted employment area designations. DHS is requesting input by April 11, 2017. ]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1233 01/13/2017Today, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published advance notice on the Federal Register of proposed rule-making for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Through this advance notice, which follows advance notice published on Wednesday about the Regional Center Program, DHS is seeking public input on several issues affecting the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program prior to issuing a proposed rule, including:1) Priority date retention for EB-5 petitioners2) Increases to minimum investment amounts3) Revisions to the targeted employment area designation process4) Revisions to the filing and interview process for removal of conditions on lawful permanent residenceNotably, DHS is proposing raising the minimum investment required to be eligible for an immigrant visa through the EB-5 program. Specifically, the rule would raise the minimum investment threshold from $1 million to $1.8 million (and from $500,000 to $1.35 million for targeted employment areas). Additionally, DHS plans to eliminate the authority of a state to designate targeted employment areas. Under the new guidelines, cities or towns with high unemployment (at least 150% of the national average) and populations of at least 20,000 would qualify as targeted employment areas. DHS, and not the states, would make further targeted employment area designations. DHS is requesting input by April 11, 2017. ]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DHS Plans to Raise EB-5 Investment Amounts http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_plans_to_raise_eb-5_investment_amounts http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1234 01/13/2017Today, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published advance notice on the Federal Register of proposed rule-making for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Through this advance notice, which follows advance notice published on Wednesday about the Regional Center Program, DHS is seeking public input on several issues affecting the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program prior to issuing a proposed rule, including:1) Priority date retention for EB-5 petitioners2) Increases to minimum investment amounts3) Revisions to the targeted employment area designation process4) Revisions to the filing and interview process for removal of conditions on lawful permanent residenceNotably, DHS is proposing raising the minimum investment required to be eligible for an immigrant visa through the EB-5 program. Specifically, the rule would raise the minimum investment threshold from $1 million to $1.8 million (and from $500,000 to $1.35 million for targeted employment areas). Additionally, DHS plans to eliminate the authority of a state to designate targeted employment areas. Under the new guidelines, cities or towns with high unemployment (at least 150% of the national average) and populations of at least 20,000 would qualify as targeted employment areas. DHS, and not the states, would make further targeted employment area designations. DHS is requesting input by April 11, 2017. ]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DHS Seeks to Reform EB-5 Regional Center Program http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_issues_advance_notice_of_possible_eb-5_rule http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1230 01/11/2017Today, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published advance notice on the Federal Register of proposed rule-making for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. The notice states that DHS "is considering making regulatory changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program... to better reflect business realities..., to increase predictability and transparency in the adjudication process for stakeholders, to improve operational efficiency for the agency, and to enhance program integrity." The Regional Center Program is a key component of the EB-5 investor visa program, which is designed to encourage foreign nationals to invest money into U.S. commercial enterprises and create U.S. jobs by offering foreign investors a path to U.S. permanent residency. Under the current program, foreign nationals must create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers and invest $1 million (or $500,000 in rural or high unemployment areas, known as targeted employment areas) in a U.S. commercial enterprise. In recent years, the program has come under fire amidst rapid program expansion and a series of high-profile controversies, including criminal charges against EB-5 regional program directors accused of fraud and misuse of funds. Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the EB-5 Regional Center Program, have opposed the straight reauthorization of the program, citing "rampant abuse". Congress, however, has maintained funding for the program without reform through continuing resolutions. DHS is now seeking public input on several issues affecting the EB-5 Regional Center Program prior to issuing a proposed rule, including:1) Initial designation of regional centers and exemplar approval2) Safeguards for monitoring and oversight3) Requirements for continued participation in the program4) Termination of regional center designationsDHS is requesting responses to specific questions by April 11, 2017.]]> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson February 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/february_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1229 2017 Visa Bulletin Released

01/10/2017

The
Department of State has released the February 2017 Visa Bulletin, which shows
the EB-1 category will remain current across all geographic areas. The EB-2
category is continuing to advance slowly for mainland China, with the final
action date moving forward from October 15, 2012 to November 15, 2012. The
final action date for EB-2 India, however, remains unchanged at April 15, 2008.
All EB-3 categories, meanwhile, have retrogressed final action dates. Below is
a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.

EB-1:
Current across all geographic areas.

EB-2:
India's final action date is April 15, 2008 and China's final action date is
November 15, 2012. All other geographic areas have a current final action date.

EB-3:
All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: March 22, 2005China: October 1, 2013Mexico: October 1, 2016Philippines: October 15, 2011El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: October 1, 2016Rest of the World: October 1, 2016You can find a complete copy of the February Visa Bulletin here.

]]>
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
New Job Flexibility Rule Takes Effect Next Week http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_job_flexibility_rule_takes_effect_next_week http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1228
New Job
Flexibility Rule Takes Effect Next Week

01/09/2017

As a
reminder, the Department of Homeland Security's ("DHS") new job flexibility rule
goes into effect on Tuesday, January 17th. The long-awaited rule,
which the DHS originally proposed in December 2015, clarifies and amends DHS
policies and regulations affecting certain immigrant and non-immigrant workers,
particularly with respect to job flexibility. 

Key
components of the rule include the following:

1) The
final rule establishes a 60-day grace period that will allow anyone holding
E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, O-1, or TN status to change employers,
including when the worker's employment ends prior to the expiration of the
non-immigrant work authorization.

2) If
a foreign national files an EAD renewal application on time and pursuant to the
same category as the original EAD application, then the applicant's work authorization
will be automatically extended for 180 days as long as the applicant's
eligibility extends beyond the current EAD expiration date. The rule will also
eliminate the 90-day regulatory timeframe for adjudicating EAD applications.

3) Workers
who have approved I-140s in retrogressed immigrant visa categories will now be
able to retain their priority dates, regardless of whether the employer who
filed the I-140 withdraws the petition or goes out of business, as long as the
I-140 has been approved for at least 180 days. The only exceptions are if the
I-140 approval is revoked due to fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material
fact, material error, or the revocation of the underlying labor certification.

Please
contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how
these changes will affect you or your organization.

]]>
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Standardizes Processing Time Format http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_standardizes_time_format http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1227 01/05/2017This afternoon USCIS announced in an e-mail to stakeholders that it will standardize the format of the processing times it publishes online. Currently, USCIS lists a length of time, such as three months, if it is meeting internal processing goals. When USCIS is not meeting its goals, it lists a specific "processing cases as of date" that refers to filing dates, or receipt dates. Going forward, USCIS will standardize the process by only listing a specific date. If a receipt date is before the posted processing date, then the application is outside normal processing times. Otherwise, USCIS considers the application to be within normal processing times. In its notice to stakeholders, though, USCIS noted, "If the receipt date on the USCIS Processing Times web page is after the date we have listed on your notice, you should expect to hear from us within 30 days. If after those 30 days, you have not heard from us, you may make an inquiry on your case."Notably, USCIS is continuing to experience severe processing delays. For example, the Vermont Service Center is now taking well over a year to process an H-1B extension petition, and the processing cases as of date, which is currently October 12, 2015, has only advanced ten days since August 2016. ]]> Thu, 05 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Clarifies Form Changes http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_clarifies_changes http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1225 12/29/2016On Friday, December 23rd, USCIS made unannounced changes to 44 different forms and implemented the changes effective that day. With the exception of Form I-129, the USCIS website indicated that USCIS would no longer accept previous versions for any of the forms updated on Friday. In response to an inquiry from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, USCIS said it would exercise discretion in accepting previous versions of the forms.Today, USCIS announced that it will continue accepting previous versions of most forms until February 21, 2017. The only exception is Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. USCIS will continue to accept previous versions of Form I-129 after February 21, 2017. ---UPDATE (01/17/2017): Today, USCIS released new versions
(edition date 01/17/2017) of the following forms: I-129, I-140, I-485,
and I-765. USCIS will continue to accept previous editions of the I-140, I-485, and I-765
until February 21, 2017. It will continue to accept previous editions of the I-129 after that date. ]]>
Thu, 29 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
AAO Issues NIW Precedent Decision http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/aao_issues_niw_precedent_decision http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1223
AAO Issues
Precedent Decision on National Interest Waivers

12/28/2016

Yesterday,
the Administrative Appeals Office ("AAO") issued a decision in Matter of Dhanasar that redefines the
criteria for obtaining a National Interest Waiver ("NIW"), which allows a
beneficiary to forego the job offer and labor certification requirement when
filing an EB-2 immigrant visa petition. In an e-mail to stakeholders, USCIS
announced that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh
Johnson, designated Matter of Dhanasar
a precedent decision, meaning it will govern all future cases involving the
same issue.

In Matter of Dhanasar, the petitioner, an
aerospace engineering researcher and teacher, self-petitioned for an immigrant
visa petition, requesting a national interest waiver. The USCIS Texas Service
Center denied the request. In reviewing the petitioner's appeal, which it
ultimately sustained, the AAO determined that the existing framework for assessing
NIW requests, as defined in Matter of New
York Dep't of Transportation
, is "ripe for revision".

The AAO explained
how the NIW requirements set forth in Matter
of New York Dep't of Transportation led to confusion about what petitioners
needed to demonstrate. The AAO cited issues with the third requirement, which
states, "The petitioner seeking the waiver must persuasively demonstrate that
the national interest would be adversely affected if a labor certification were
required for the alien." Specifically, the AAO noted that it "can be
misinterpreted to require the petitioner to submit, and the adjudicator to
evaluate, evidence relevant to the very labor market test that the waiver is
designed to forego." Finally, the AAO stated that the existing framework is
"particularly ill-suited for USCIS to evaluate petitions from self-employed
individuals, such as entrepreneurs."

In its new
precedent decision, the AAO establishes three updated criteria for national
interest waivers:

1)     
The
foreign national's proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national
importance;

2)     
He
or she is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and3)     
On
balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and
labor certification requirements.

The
precedent decision also details how USCIS should consider NIW requests. For example,
the adjudicating officer should not evaluate "prospective impact solely in
geographic terms". Additionally, "USCIS may evaluate factors such as whether,
in light of the nature of the foreign national's qualifications or proposed
endeavor, it would be impractical either for the foreign national to secure a
job offer or for the petitioner to obtain a labor certification."

]]>
Wed, 28 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS Makes Unannounced Form Changes http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_makes_form_changes http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1222 12/27/2016On Friday, December 23rd, USCIS made unannounced changes to 44 different forms and made the changes effective that day. Stakeholders only became aware of the changes once USCIS deployed the new forms on the USCIS website. With the exception of Form I-129, the USCIS website indicates that USCIS will no longer accept previous versions for any of the forms updated on Friday. Important form updates include:• Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker• Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker• Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status• Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status• Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization• Form I-131, Application for Travel Document• Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative• Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition• Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion• Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur • Form N-400, Application for NaturalizationUSCIS did not update Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service), Form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative), or Form I-129S (Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition). Normally, when USCIS updates a form and intends to stop accepting previous versions, it announces the change in advance to allow stakeholders sufficient time to adjust to the change. For example, USCIS published a new version of Form I-129S in June 2016, and it did not take effect until August 2016. When USCIS updated Form N-400, moreover, it even extended the grace period. With these changes taking immediate effect, USCIS did not provide stakeholders the opportunity to prepare and file the updated forms. To this end, any application that USCIS received on December 23rd would have been prepared and filed before USCIS even implemented the changes. The American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA") contacted USCIS about the form changes on Friday. AILA summarized USCIS' response as follows: "USCIS responded that while it strongly encourages people to use the new version of the forms, as indicated on its website, it is aware that there may be older editions of the forms that have already been completed and are in the queue to be mailed and/or filed. USCIS said that it will be flexible and will apply discretion when receipting forms, rather than rejecting them outright."Goel & Anderson is updating all of its forms to adhere to the new requirements, in addition to addressing how the form changes could affect clients. If you have any questions about how the form changes could affect you or your organization, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney. Source: American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA Doc. No. 16122312.]]> Tue, 27 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Filing Fees Change Next Week http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_filing_fees_change_next_week http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1219 12/12/2016As a reminder, USCIS' filing fees are scheduled to change next week. The Department of Homeland Security first announced the change on October 24th. Effective Friday, December 23rd, USCIS will reject as not properly filed any petition or application that does not include the new fee. The updated fee schedule, the first change to USCIS' filing fees since 2010, increases almost all filing fees. The premium processing fee ($1,225) and biometrics fee ($85), however, will not change. Notable increases include:• Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker): Increase from $325 to $460.• Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker): Increase from $580 to $700.• Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)- Age 14 or Older: Increase from $985 to $1,140.• Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)- Under Age 14: Increase from $635 to $750.• Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status): Increase from $290 to $370.• Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization): Increase from $380 to $410.• Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document): Increase from $360 to $575.• Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): Increase from $420 to $535.A breakdown of all the filing fee changes can be found here.Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how these fee changes will affect you or your organization.]]> Mon, 12 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson January 2017 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/january_2017_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1220 12/12/2016The Department of State has released the January 2017 Visa Bulletin, which shows the EB-1 category will remain current across all geographic areas. The EB-2 category, meanwhile, is continuing to advance slowly for both India and mainland China. Specifically, the final action date will move forward from February 1, 2008 to April 15, 2008 for EB-2 India and from September 22, 2012 to October 15, 2012 for EB-2 China. Notably, the final action date for EB-3 India did not change from last month's Visa Bulletin. Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: Current across all geographic areas.EB-2: India's final action date is April 15, 2008 and China's final action date is October 15, 2012. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-3: All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: March 15, 2005China: September 8, 2013Mexico: August 1, 2016Philippines: July 22, 2011El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: August 1, 2016Rest of the World: August 1, 2016You can find a complete copy of the January 2017 Visa Bulletin here.]]> Mon, 12 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson President-elect Trump Makes DHS Secretary Selection http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/president-elect_trump_makes_dhs_secretary_selection http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1218 12/07/2016Today, President-elect Trump's transition team informed CNN the President-elect has chosen Retired Marine General John Kelly as his Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"). If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kelly would oversee U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"). Kelly last served as head of the U.S. Southern Command. In that capacity, his command covered Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, including the military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The New York Times is reporting that Trump will formally announce Kelly as his nominee for DHS Secretary next week, together with announcements about other national security positions. Goel & Anderson will continue to provide relevant news updates about the President-elect's nominee for DHS Secretary.--- UPDATE (12/12/2016): Today, President-elect Trump officially announced Kelly is his nominee for DHS Secretary. UPDATE (01/10/2017): Today, General Kelly appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Commitee for his confirmation hearing. There appears to be little opposition to his confirmation.UPDATE (01/20/2017): Today, the Senate confirmed General Kelly as DHS Secretary by a vote of 88-11.]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Supreme Court Hears Prolonged Detention Case http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/supreme_court_hears_prolonged_detention_case http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1217 12/01/2016Yesterday, the Supreme Court ("Court") heard oral arguments in Jennings v. Rodriguez. The federal government filed an appeal to the Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that immigrants in mandatory detention must be afforded bond hearings if they are held for longer than six months. Notably, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made its ruling based on its interpretation of the governing statute, not a conclusion that prolonged mandatory detention without a bond hearing is unconstitutional. A summary of the issues before the Supreme Court can be found here.During oral arguments, Ian Gershengorn, Acting Solicitor General, contended on behalf of the government that the issue of prolonged detention should be handled on a case-by-case basis through individual habeas corpus petitions, rather than through a class action lawsuit. Additionally, he argued that most of the delays are the result of individuals requesting continuances in their cases. Emphasizing the Court should consider the reasons for delays, the Acting Solicitor General said, "...it is not our view that most of the delays that we are talking about here in the lengthy cases are situations resulting from government resource problems or things of that nature. A lot - the record indicates that aliens routinely seek continuances and they seek multiple continuances."In response, Ahilan Arulanantham, speaking on behalf of the Respondents, argued that most detained immigrants are not familiar enough with the American legal system to file their own habeas corpus petitions. Additionally, he noted that it can currently take as long as 19 months to decide a habeas corpus petition. On the Acting Solicitor General's suggestion that prolonged detentions are due to immigrants stalling their own cases, Mr. Arulanantham noted that judges could decide the issue on a case-by-case basis during bond hearings. A complete transcript of the oral arguments can be found here.---UPDATE (12/15/2016): The Supreme Court has issued an order requesting supplemental briefs from both parties.  ]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson DHS Publishes Job Flexibility Rule http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_publishes_job_flexibility_rule http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1216 11/21/2016On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published a long-awaited final rule on the Federal Register which clarifies and amends DHS policies and regulations affecting certain immigrant and non-immigrant workers, particularly with respect to job flexibility. DHS originally proposed this rule and posted it for public comment on December 31, 2015, and it received nearly 28,000 comments before the comment period closed on February 29, 2016. Key components of the rule, which will not take effect until January 17, 2017, include the following:1) The final rule establishes a 60-day grace period that will allow anyone holding E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, O-1, or TN status to change employers, including when the worker's employment ends prior to the expiration of the non-immigrant work authorization. 2) If a foreign national files an EAD renewal application on time and pursuant to the same category as the original EAD application, then the applicant's work authorization will be automatically extended for 180 days as long as the applicant's eligibility extends beyond the current EAD expiration date. The rule will also eliminate the 90-day regulatory timeframe for adjudicating EAD applications.3) Workers who have approved I-140s in retrogressed immigrant visa categories will now be able to retain their priority dates, regardless of whether the employer who filed the I-140 withdraws the petition or goes out of business, as long as the I-140 has been approved for at least 180 days. The only exceptions are if the I-140 approval is revoked due to fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, material error, or the revocation of the underlying labor certification. Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how these changes will affect you or your organization. ]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson December 2016 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/december_2016_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1215 11/09/2016The Department of State has released the December 2016 Visa Bulletin, which shows the EB-1 category will remain current across all geographic areas. Additionally, the Visa Bulletin shows final action dates are advancing for certain retrogressed employment-based categories. The EB-2 category will advance for both India and mainland China. Notably, the final action date will move forward from November 1, 2007 to February 1, 2008 for EB-2 India and from July 15, 2012 to September 22, 2012 for EB-2 China. Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: Current across all geographic areas.EB-2: India's final action date is February 1, 2008 and China's final action date is September 22, 2012. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-3: All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: March 15, 2005China: July 1, 2013Mexico: July 1, 2016Philippines: June 1, 2011El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: July 1, 2016All Other Chargeability Areas: July 1, 2016You can see the entire visa bulletin here. ]]> Wed, 09 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Requests for Foreign Labor Certification Up From Last Year http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/requests_for_foreign_labor_certification_up_from_last_year http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1213 11/7/2016U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) reports that requests for temporary and permanent labor certifications are up 20% from last year. The agency reported receiving 711,820 employer applications of which they certified 650,187.The report also stated that the National Prevailing Wage Center processed 152,702 prevailing wage determination (PWD) requests, which is an increase of 20,658 from last year. PWDs are used in H-1B, H-1B1, E-3, and H-2B visa applications, as well as in the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) applications. The three states at the top of the list for most PWD requests were California, Texas, and New York. Other states that topped the list included New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Washington, Virginia, and Michigan. In ranking the states with the highest number of PERM certifications, California had the highest number, followed by Texas, New Jersey, and New York. ]]> Mon, 07 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Updates Guidance on Health-Related Inadmissibility http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_updates_guidance_on_health-related_inadmissibility http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1212 11/2/2016USCIS has removed three medical conditions from the inadmissibility list and has revised various definitions in its most recent update to Volume 8, Part B of USCIS' immigration policy manual. This update follows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' final rule updating its regulations.Some of the policy guide's changes include updating the definition of a "Class A" and "Class B" condition. Class A conditions include medical conditions that make a person inadmissible for permanent residency in the U.S. Class B conditions include conditions that will not cause a person to be inadmissible but may require extensive medical treatment. The guide's changes also include the removal of three communicable diseases from the list of conditions that render a person inadmissible. ]]> Wed, 02 Nov 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson BALCA affirms denial of PERM due to missing resume http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/balca_affirms_denial_of_perm_application_due_to_missing_resu http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1211 10/31/2016Dell Marketing's PERM application was originally denied when the employer failed to provide all of the resumes received during recruitment in an audit response issued in May 2011. The employer asked the Certifying Officer ("CO") to reconsider the denial, arguing that the missing resume was an "inadvertent omission" that was a "harmless error as it [did] not change the outcome of the recruitment efforts". However, the CO affirmed the earlier denial stating that it was an employer's responsibility to comply and not including all resumes was a "substantial failure to respond".In affirming the CO's denial the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals ("BALCA") stated that resumes are considered part of the supporting documentation that companies are required to maintain in the event of an audit and the failure to provide even one resume is a "substantial failure within the meaning of §656.20(b)". BALCA's decision continued, "The omission of one document may not appear to be ‘substantial.' However, not having even one resume prevents the CO from determining if ‘[t]here are not sufficient United States workers who are able, willing, qualified and available at the time of application for a visa and admission to the United States." ]]> Mon, 31 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson California company fined $56,150 for I-9 violations http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/california_company_fined_%2456%2C150_for_i-9_violations http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1209 10/25/2016Administrative law judge Thomas P. McCarthy ordered Solutions Group International LLC ("Solutions") to pay a penalty of $56,150 after finding that the Beverly Hills company did not properly complete I-9 forms for 84 of its employees. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") originally proposed that Solutions should receive an $87,422 fine; however, Judge McCarthy lowered the fine amount to $56,150 stating, "respondent is a small business, it is appropriate to mitigate the penalty assessment based on the public policy of leniency toward small businesses".Solutions did not contest the I-9 violations, but stated it performed "thorough" background checks on its employees and that all of its employees were eligible to work in the U.S. ICE noted that no unauthorized workers were found to be employed by Solutions; however, the employment of unauthorized workers is only taken into consideration when determining the size of the penalties-not in determining whether an I-9 violation exists at all. The I-9 regulations state, "When an employer fails to properly prepare, retain, or produce Forms I-9 upon request, civil money penalties are assessed". ICE may then take the following factors into consideration when determining the penalty amount:(1) the size of the employer's business; (2) the employer's good faith; (3) the seriousness of the violations; (4) whether the employee is an unauthorized alien; and (5) the employer's history of previous violations.Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the I-9 process or regulations. ]]> Tue, 25 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson BALCA reverses labor certification denial http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/balca_reverses_labor_cert._denial_despite_familial_relations http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1210 10/25/2016The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals reversed a company's labor certification denial stating that though the foreign worker was the son of the company's sole owner, the position was open to U.S. workers. In its reversal BALCA stated that though a familial relationship between a foreign worker and an employer creates a presumption that the job in question is not clearly open to U.S. workers, it is not an insurmountable presumption. BALCA went on to state that "a review of the totality of the circumstances leads us to find that the job opportunity was open to U.S. workers".
 
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Tue, 25 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Publishes Updated USCIS Filing Fees http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_publishes_updated_uscis_filing_fees http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1207 10/24/2016Today, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") published a final rule in the Federal Register to change USCIS filing fees effective December 23, 2016. The updated fee schedule is the first change to USCIS' filing fees since 2010. Notable changes include:• Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker): Increase from $325 to $460.• Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker): Increase from $580 to $700.• Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)- Age 14 or Older: Increase from $985 to $1,140.• Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)- Under Age 14: Increase from $635 to $750.• Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status): Increase from $290 to $370.• Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization): Increase from $380 to $410.• Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document): Increase from $360 to $575.• Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative): Increase from $420 to $535.• Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion): Increase from $630 to $675.• Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition): Increase from $405 to $465.• Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur): Increase from $1,500 to $3,675.• Form I-924 (Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program): Increase from $6,230 to $17,795.• Form I-924A (Annual Certification of Regional Center): New fee of $3,035.• Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization): Increase from $595 to $640.USCIS' premium processing fee ($1,225) and biometrics fee ($85) will not change. A breakdown of all the filing fee changes can be found here.DHS also updated and clarified its policies regarding dishonored payments and refunds, respectively. If a filing fee payment is returned as not payable, the government will now submit the payment request to the applicant's bank a second time. If it is returned as not payable again, USCIS will reject the application as not properly filed. If the application has already been approved, then USCIS will issue a Notice of Intent to Revoke. This is a change from existing policy, which provides for a 14-day period for the applicant to correct the payment issue before the application is rejected. Regarding refunds, the final rule clarifies that the government will only issue refunds in the event of "obvious DHS error" such as accepting a duplicate payment or requesting an unnecessary filing fee. In the final rule, DHS noted that in 2015 it issued 4,485 refunds totaling more than $1.8 million. The only exception to this rule is if USCIS fails to take timely action on an application filed under premium processing, in which case the applicant is eligible to request a refund of the $1,225 premium processing filing fee.DHS published this final rule after receiving 475 comments during the 60-day public comment period that began after DHS published the proposed rule in May 2016. While DHS acknowledged that "the clear majority [of commenters] stated that the fees were too high", DHS defended the fee increases by arguing they are consistent with USCIS' standard fee-setting methodology and necessary to "fully recover costs and maintain adequate service." Regarding the issue of adequate service, DHS acknowledged that many of the commenters raised concerns about processing delays and customer service. DHS responded to these comments by noting that a lack of Congressional funding for certain programs has required DHS to reallocate resources, which the new fee schedule will resolve, and arguing that USCIS cannot provide adequate service if it does not have the resources to do so.Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how these fee changes will affect you or your organization. ]]> Mon, 24 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson October 2016 Processing Time Update http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/october_2016_processing_time_update_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1206 10/19/2016Yesterday, USCIS posted updated case processing timelines to its website, which now shows USCIS' processing times as of August 31, 2016. The updated case processing times continue to show significant H-1B processing delays at all service centers, none of which are meeting USCIS' internal goal for processing H-1B petitions. The Vermont Service Center continues to experience the worst delays, particularly for H-1B extensions, which have a "Processing Cases as of Date" of October 5, 2015. Complete copies of USCIS' case processing timelines are attached for the California, Nebraska, Texas, and Vermont Service Centers.  Related Items[photo5R]California Service Center Processing TimesNebraska Service Center Processing Times Texas Service Center Processing TimesVermont Service Center Processing Times  ]]> Wed, 19 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson November 2016 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/november_2016_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1205 10/12/2016The Department of State has released the November 2016 Visa Bulletin, which shows the EB-1 category will remain current across all geographic areas. Additionally, the Visa Bulletin shows final action dates are advancing for retrogressed employment-based categories. Notably, the EB-2 category will advance several months for both India and mainland China. Specifically, the final action date will move forward from January 15, 2007 to November 1, 2007 for EB-2 India and from February 15, 2012 to July 15, 2012 for EB-2 China. Below is a breakdown of the final action dates for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.EB-1: Current across all geographic areas.EB-2: India's final action date is November 1, 2007 and China's final action date is July 15, 2012. All other geographic areas have a current final action date. EB-3: All geographic areas have a retrogressed final action date as follows:India: March 8, 2005China: April 15, 2013Mexico: July 1, 2016Philippines: April 1, 2011El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: July 1, 2016All Other Chargeability Areas: July 1, 2016A complete copy of the November 2016 Visa Bulletin is attached.  Related Items[photo2R] November 2016 Visa Bulletin]]> Wed, 12 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Hurricane Matthew Immigration Relief http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/hurricane_matthew_immigration_relief http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1204 10/11/2016Today, USCIS issued an alert reminding stakeholders of immigration relief that is available in extraordinary circumstances, including natural disasters such as Hurricane Matthew. This relief covers a wide range of areas, including but not limited to:• Acceptance of requests for extensions of stay after the foreign national's authorized period of stay has expired.• Expedited processing of certain applications and requests.• Fee waivers.• Assistance for those who were unable to appear for an interview or respond to a Request for Evidence on time.• Replacement of lost or damaged documents. • Rescheduling of biometrics appointments.USCIS notes that anyone making such a request must explain how the request for relief is related to Hurricane Matthew. If you are a company that employs foreign nationals in the United States and need guidance on how to obtain Hurricane Matthew immigration relief from USCIS, you can request a consultation with a Goel & Anderson attorney. ]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Releases E-1 and E-2 RFE Template Drafts http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_releases_e-1_and_e-2_rfe_template_drafts http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1203 10/06/2016Today, USCIS published E-1 and E-2 RFE template drafts and is seeking public feedback. The RFE templates cover the following I-129 petitions:• E-1 Treaty Trader• E-1 Employee of a Treaty Trader• E-2 Treaty Investor• E-2 Employee of a Treaty InvestorThe comment period ends on October 21, 2016, and comments should be sent to: scopsrfe@uscis.dhs.gov.  Related Items[photo5R]E-1 Treaty Trader RFE Template (as proposed by USCIS)E-1 Employee of a Treaty Trader RFE Template (as proposed by USCIS)E-2 Treaty Investor RFE Template (as proposed by USCIS)E-2 Employee of a Treaty Investor RFE Template (as proposed by USCIS) ]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson State Department Releases FY2016 Refugee Statistics http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/state_department_releases_fy2016_refugee_statistics http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1202 10/05/2016Yesterday, the U.S. Department of State released details about the refugees admitted to the United States during Fiscal Year 2016, which ended on September 30, 2016. Specifically, the Department of State announced the United States admitted 84,995 refugees in fulfillment of President Obama's goal of resettling 85,000 refugees, an increase from 70,000 in preceding years.The announcement highlighted the following about the refugee resettlement program for Fiscal Year 2016:• The admitted refugees came to the United States from 79 different countries.• Over 72% of the refugees were women and children.• Over 70% of the refugees originated from The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia.• The Department of State works with approximately 180 U.S. cities across 48 states to resettle refugees.The Department of State concluded by noting the United States will admit 110,000 refugees during Fiscal Year 2017 and emphasizing the importance of the refugee resettlement program as "consistent with the belief that all nations must do more to help the record number of innocent civilians who are uprooted, cast adrift, and desperate to find peace, safety and the chance to rebuild their lives."]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Offering E-Verify and I-9 Webinars http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_conducting_e-verify_and_i-9_webinars http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1201 10/03/2016Starting today, USCIS is offering webinars for employers on the E-Verify program and Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The webinars cover a variety of topics, including an overview of the E-Verify program, enrollment in E-Verify, and an overview of Form I-9. The webinars are free and do not require preregistration.
 
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Mon, 03 Oct 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Government Shutdown Avoided http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/government_shutdown_avoided http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1198 09/30/2016Yesterday, President Obama signed H.R. 5325, a continuing resolution which funds the federal government until December 9, 2016. The continuing resolution avoids a government shutdown that would have occurred had Congress not taken action by today's deadline. Included in the legislation is continued funding for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor. While USCIS' service center operations are funded through filing fees, the bill allows immigration programs such as the EB-5 Regional Center Program and E-Verify to continue. ]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Form I-131A Now Available http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/form_i-131a_now_available http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1200 09/30/2016
USCIS Published Form I-131A which will allow for Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) to apply for a travel document if they are returning from temporary overseas travel and their green card or re-entry permit has been lost, stolen, or destroyed. An LPR filing the I-131A for a lost/stolen/destroyed green card must be returning from a trip of less than one year and an LPR filing the I-131A for a lost/stolen/destroyed Reentry Permit must be returning from a trip of less than two years to be eligible. In order to file Form I-131A, the LPR must pay the fee online and apply in-person at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The resulting travel document will either be a boarding foil or a transportation letter. This document will demonstrate to the travel carrier that the LPR is authorized to travel to a U.S. port of entry but will not guarantee admittance or parole into the U.S. The LPR's admittance to the U.S. will be determined at the port of entry by CBP. Once the LPR has been admitted to the U.S. they should file the Form I-90 for a replacement green card.See further information about the form, here
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Fri, 30 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
USCIS to Continue Accepting Previous Version of Form N-400 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_to_accept_previous_version_of_form_n-400 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1197 09/28/2016Today, USCIS announced in an e-mail to stakeholders that it will continue accepting the previous version (Edition Date 09/13/2013) of Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, until December 1, 2016. USCIS had previously required all applicants to begin using the new version of the form (Edition Date 03/26/2016) effective October 1, 2016.  ]]> Thu, 29 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson H-1B Lottery Lawsuit Continues http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/h-1b_lottery_lawsuit_continues http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1195
09/26/2016

On
Thursday, September 22nd, a federal judge denied USCIS' motion to
dismiss a class action lawsuit that alleges the H-1B lottery system violates
federal law. In the case, Tenrec et al.
v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, two companies, and the two
foreign nationals for whom they filed cap-subject H-1B petitions on April 1st
of this year, have sued USCIS claiming that the H-1B cap lottery system is
arbitrary and capricious. U.S. District Judge Michael Simon denied USCIS'
motion to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiffs have standing to
bring the lawsuit and that they have sufficiently argued their claims.

There is a
Congressionally-mandated numerical limitation on new H-1B visa petitions of
65,000 per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 available for foreign
nationals who have earned U.S. Master's degrees. Whenever USCIS receives more
petitions than the allotted numbers, USCIS enters all petitions received within
the first five business days of the filing period, which begins April 1st
each year, into a computer-generated lottery system in order to determine which
petitions are accepted and which are rejected.

[Courtesy:
Law360.]

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Mon, 26 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Immigrant Visa Applicants May Use Earlier Filing Dates http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/some_visa_applicants_may_use_the_dates_for_filing_visa_appli http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1194 09/22/2016USCIS has determined that the majority of family and employment-based immigrant visa applicants can use the "Dates for Filing Visa Applications" for the month of October 2016 as opposed to the "Application Final Action Dates". Applicants who must continue to use the final action dates include EB-4 and EB-5 applicants. The "Dates for Filing Visa Applications" for employment-based applicants are outlined below. EB-1: Current across all geographic areas.EB-2: China's date for filing for the EB-2 category is March 1, 2013. India's is April 22, 2009. Mexico, the Philippines, and all other chargeability areas have a current date for filing.EB-3: China's date for filing for the EB-3 category is May 1, 2014. India's is July 1, 2005. Mexico's is current and the Philippines' is September 1, 2013. All other chargeability areas are current.The full October 2016 Visa Bulletin on the Department of State website can be found here. ]]> Thu, 22 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Applicants No Longer Need to Submit Photos with N-400 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/citizenship_applicants_no_longer_need_to_submit_photos_with_ http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1196 09/22/2016 Now that the N-400, Application for Naturalization is processed electronically applicants are no longer required to submit two passport-like photos with their application. Pictures of applicants will be captured at the time of their biometrics appointment at the Application Support Center (ASC). In addition, applicants 75 years or older will no longer be exempt from attending a biometrics appointment, however they will still be exempt from paying the biometrics fee.]]> Thu, 22 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Third Country Nationals to Apply for H-1B Visas in Vancouver http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/third_country_nationals_can_apply_for_h-1b_visas_in_vancouve http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1193 09/21/2016The U.S. Consulate in Vancouver, Canada confirmed to the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Department of State Liaison Committee that the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver, Canada will accept first-time H-1B visa applications from third country nationals, regardless of where they earned their educational degrees. Applicants who earned their degrees from countries other than Canada or the United States had previously been discouraged from applying at the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver. [Courtesy: American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA Doc. No. 16091903.]]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Registration for the DV-2018 Program Opens 10/4/2016 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/online_registration_for_the_dv-2018_program_opens_october_4%2C http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1192 9/20/2016Eligible persons can sign up for the Department of State's Diversity Immigrant Visa Program beginning at 12 noon on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. The program provides immigrant visas for eligible immigrants coming from countries with "historically low rates of immigration to the United States". There will be 50,000 Diversity Visas (DV) available in 2018 and registration for the program is free. Those selected for a DV are chosen through a randomized selection.The DV recipients are distributed across six geographic regions however no single country may receive more than 7% of the 50,000 DVs in one year. In addition, for the DV-2018 Program immigrants from the following countries are not eligible to apply as more than 50,000 people hailing from each of these countries immigrated to the U.S. in the past 5 years:Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.The program registration is free and instructions for the DV-2018 Program can be found here. ]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Celebrates Constitution Day and Citizenship Day http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_celebrates_constitution_day_and_citizenship_day http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1191 09/19/2016 USCIS will celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by welcoming 38,000 new American citizens throughout the week. In observance of these celebrations USCIS Director León Rodriguez will administer the Oath of Allegiance at naturalization ceremonies across the country, including a ceremony held at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.The purpose of the week-long celebration is to promote awareness and understanding of citizenship and to showcase how immigrants add "strength and character" to our country. This year, as part of an ongoing partnership with the National Park Service, USCIS will hold 100 naturalization ceremonies in national parks and historic sites to commemorate the National Park Services' centennial celebration. USCIS has also launched an Instagram account to post pictures of various citizenship ceremonies across the country.  You can follow them in English (@USCIS) and in Spanish (@USCIS_es).  ]]> Mon, 19 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson USCIS Publishes Updated Case Processing Times http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/uscis_publishes_updated_case_processing_times http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1189 09/15/2016Today, USCIS posted updated case processing timelines to its website, with the listed times now reflecting USCIS' processing dates as of July 31, 2016. The updated case processing times continue to show significant H-1B processing delays at all service centers. None of the service centers are meeting USCIS' internal goal for processing H-1B petitions, including the Nebraska Service Center, which only recently began accepting certain H-1B extension petitions. The Vermont Service Center is experiencing the worst delays, with the processing time for an H-1B extension of stay approaching one year. As noted in the CIS Ombudsman's summary of a recent teleconference on H-1B processing delays, H-1B petitioners are now allowed to submit a service request to USCIS, regardless of posted processing times, if an H-1B extension petition has been pending for 210 days. USCIS made this option available as part of an effort to prioritize cases in which the beneficiary is nearing the end of his 240-day period of automatic work authorization while the petition is pending.]]> Thu, 15 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Current Form I-9 valid until January 21, 2017 http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/current_form_i-9_valid_until_january_21%2C_2017 http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1188
Current Form I-9 valid until January 21, 2017 

09/14/2016


The Office of Management and Budget approved a new Form I-9 on August 25, 2016 and USCIS must now publish the revised form by November 22, 2016. Employers may continue to use the current version of the Form I-9 (with a revision date of 3/8/2013) until January 21, 2017. After January 21, 2017 Employers should use the new Form I-9 as all previous version will no longer be valid.
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Wed, 14 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
CIS Ombudsman Recap of EAD and H-1B Teleconference http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/cis_ombudsman_recap_of_ead_and_h-1b_teleconference http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1187 09/12/2016  The CIS Ombudsman's office held a public teleconference on August 31, 2016 that focused on processing delays in the adjudication of EAD and Change of Status applications and H-1B extension petitions. Today, the Ombudsman's office published its summary of the call. In the summary, the Ombudsman highlights the key points of the teleconference, including how current processing times compare to last year's delays, the impacts of processing delays on stakeholders, changes USCIS has either made or proposed to address processing delay issues, and recourse available to stakeholders. Of particular note, the teleconference noted that USCIS has proposed eliminating the 90-day adjudication requirement for EAD applications and implementing an automatic 180-day work authorization period for timely filed applications. In the meantime, it is important to file EAD applications, which can be submitted up to 120 days in advance, as soon as possible. Regarding H-1Bs, the summary notes that USCIS recently consolidated the processing of certain H-1B extension petitions at the Nebraska Service Center to relieve H-1B processing delays at the Vermont and California Service Centers. Additionally, H-1B petitioners are now allowed to submit a service request to USCIS, regardless of posted processing times, if an H-1B extension petition has been pending for 210 days. USCIS made this option available as part of an effort to prioritize cases in which the beneficiary is nearing the end of his 240-day period of automatic work authorization while the petition is pending. ]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson October 2016 Visa Bulletin Released http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/october_2016_visa_bulletin_released http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1185 October 2016 Visa Bulletin Released09/08/2016The State Department has released the October 2016 final action dates for the employment-based immigrant visa. Notably, the EB-1 category has returned to current across all geographic areas. Please see details of the October visa bulletin below and access the full bulletin here. EB-1: Current across all geographic areas. EB-2: China's final action date for the EB-2 category is February 15, 2012. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras' final action date is current. India's is January 15, 2007. Mexico, the Philippines, and all other chargeability areas have a current final action date. EB-3: China's final action date for the EB-3 category is January 22, 2013. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras' final action date is June 1, 2016. India's is March 1, 2005. Mexico's is June 1, 2016 and the Philippines' is December 1, 2010. All other chargeability areas have a final action date of June 1, 2016.]]> Thu, 08 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Senators Oppose EB-5 Reauthorization http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senators_oppose_eb-5_reauthorization http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1186 09/08/2016Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote to Senate leaders last week opposing the straight reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program.The Regional Center Program is a key component of the EB-5 investor visa program, which is designed to encourage foreign nationals to invest money into U.S. commercial enterprises and create U.S. jobs by offering foreign investors a path to U.S. permanent residency. Under the current program, foreign nationals must create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers and invest $1 million (or $500,000 in rural or high unemployment areas, known as targeted employment areas) in a U.S. commercial enterprise. In recent years, the program has come under fire amidst rapid program expansion and a series of high-profile controversies, including criminal charges against EB-5 regional program directors accused of fraud and misuse of funds. In a letter citing program abuse, fraud, securities violations, money laundering, exploitation of investors, and failed projects, Senators Grassley and Leahy encouraged Senate leadership to let the program expire unless program reforms are made. The proposed reforms include raising the minimum investment thresholds, increasing program transparency, and expanding the resources of the Department of Homeland Security to complete additional background checks, site visits, audits, and vetting of projects and investors, as well as the authority to sanction noncompliant regional centers and program participants. Grassley and Leahy's letter is the latest in a series of increasing efforts to reform the EB-5 program, including reform legislation proposed by Grassley and Leahy last year. With the Regional Center Program set to expire at the end of the month, the Senators and other program critics are sending the message that it is either time to reform or retire the program. ]]> Thu, 08 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Nebraska Service Center to Process Certain H-1B Petitions http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/nebraska_service_center_begins_processing_certain_h-1b_petit http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1184 Nebraska Service Center Begins Processing Certain H-1B Petitions09/01/2016On June 1, 2016, USCIS announced that the Nebraska Service Center would begin accepting H-1B petitions filed with a basis of classification of "Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer" effective July 1, 2016. USCIS further noted that the Vermont Service Center and California Service Center would continue accepting those petitions during a transition period ending on August 31, 2016. Now that the transition period has ended, the Nebraska Service Center is the only USCIS service center accepting such H-1B petitions.  ]]> Thu, 01 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson New Version of Form I-129S Now Required http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/new_version_of_form_i-129s_now_required http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1183 New Version of Form I-129S Now Required 08/29/2016
On June 29, 2016, USCIS published a new version (Edition Date 06/02/2016) of Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition. Effective today, USCIS is no longer accepting the previous edition of the form. In an e-mail to stakeholders on August 8, 2016, the Consular Information Unit of the U.S. Consulate in Chennai, India confirmed the Department of State will also stop accepting the previous version of Form I-129S today. U.S. Consulates will issue Form 221(g) if the visa applicant does not provide the current edition of the form, which will require the applicant to return to the U.S. Consulate with the correct version in order to have the application adjudicated. This requirement applies even if the applicant scheduled his visa interview prior to today’s date.  The updated version of Form I-129S is eight pages long and includes new requests, such as whether the applicant has any aliases or previous names (including maiden names), the applicant’s foreign salary, and the number of hours per week the applicant worked abroad. The form also requests the petitioner to declare whether the applicant’s qualifying foreign position is executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge in nature.   

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Mon, 29 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
DHS Submits Proposed International Entrepreneur Rule http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/dhs_submits_proposed_%E2%80%9Cinternational_entrepreneur_rule%E2%80%9D http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1190 08/25/2016On August 24, 2016, DHS sent a proposed "International Entrepreneur Rule" to the Federal Register for comments. The proposed rule will allow for qualifying foreign entrepreneurs to apply for parole in the U.S. for up to two years. In order to qualify for parole, the entrepreneur must demonstrate that his or her entry to the US would provide a "significant public benefit" and must demonstrate that their business has a "significant potential for rapid growth and job creation". Proposed criteria for demonstrating this "significant potential for rapid growth and job creation" include: the receipt of significant capital financing or significant awards from Federal, State, or local government entities, or significant capital financing from successful U.S. investors. Other proposed requirements for the program include: requiring the start-up be a newly formed U.S. business; demonstrating that the entrepreneur owns at least 15% of the start-up; and demonstrating that the start-up has received investment totaling at least $345,000. You can find the full text of the proposed rule here. ]]> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Visa Bulletin Final Action Dates Affect December Eligibility http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/visa_bulletin_final_action_dates_control_december_eligibilit http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1180 USCIS Announces Final Action Dates Will Control Filing Eligibility for Employment-Based Immigrant in December 2015 11/13/2015U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed it will only accept employment-based adjustment of status applications according to the Final Action Dates chart – not the Dates for Filing chart – contained in the State Department’s December 2015 Visa Bulletin.Accordingly, employment-based immigrants must follow the Final Action Dates chart in the December Visa Bulletin to determine if they are eligible to submit their adjustment of status petitions. Employment-based immigrants whose priority dates are earlier than the dates in the following Application Final Action Dates chart for their preference category are eligible to file for adjustment of status in December. The USCIS announcement does not apply to Family-based immigrants, who may use the applicable Dates for Filing chart in December.Under a new two-tiered system introduced in October, the State Department’s monthly visa bulletin contains the Final Action Dates chart for approvals of immigrant visa applications and a new "Dates for Filing" chart indicating cutoff dates for purposes of eligibility to file for adjustment of status. However, USCIS has indicated that it will take up to one week after the publication of the bulletin to determine whether it will accept filings based on the Final Action Dates chart or the Dates for Filing chart.  
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Fri, 13 Nov 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
Senators Oppose EB-5 Regional Center Reauthorization http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/senators_oppose_eb-5_regional_center_reauthorization http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1177 Senators Oppose EB-5 Regional Center Reauthorization11/12/2015Citing concerns over reports of fraud and abuse in the EB-5 Regional Center program,  Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) wrote to Senate leaders to oppose a straight reauthorization in the appropriations bill covering fiscal year 2016.  At present, the EB-5 program is operating under authorization granted under a continuing resolution that funds the government through December 11, 2015. Earlier this year,  Senators Grassley and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation to reform the EB-5 Regional Center Program.]]> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Washington Post Examines USCIS Transformation Project http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/washington_post_examines_uscis_transformation_project http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1178 11/08/2015 G&A Managing Partner Vic Goel was quoted in a Washington Post article about the USCIS Transformation initiative. The article details the more than $1 billion USCIS has spent over the past decade, trying to replace an outdated approach to managing immigration with a system of digitized records, online applications, and electronic forms. ]]> Sun, 08 Nov 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson Goel & Anderson Again Selected for "Best Law Firms" http://www.goellaw.com/resources/immigration_news/goel_%26_anderson_best_law_firms http://www.goellaw.com/news/?id=1179  
U.S. News-Best Lawyers Selects Goel & Anderson Among "Best Law Firms" for Immigration11/02/2015[photo1R]Goel & Anderson has again been selected for inclusion in the 2015-2016 "Best Law Firms" rankings issued by U.S. News Media Group and Best Lawyers®. The firm has been awarded a Tier 3 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). 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, LLCGoel & 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 http://www.goellaw.com.]]>
Mon, 02 Nov 2015 05:00:00 +0000 Goel and Anderson
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.
 ]]>
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 Licenses 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
Bill Gates Speaks to Congress about Immigration Reform 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. wi