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Federal Court Judge imposes Temporary Restraining order re SSA “No-Match” Letters September 5, 2007

Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, Immigration Laws and Policies, News and politics, Simply Immigration!.
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Federal Judge Maxine Chesney  from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that enjoins the implementation of the Department of Homeland Security rules on Social Security Administration “no-match” letters.  The Judge said there was a serious question about whether the Bush administration’s planned crackdown on illegal workers was authorized by law. A hearing on whether a preliminary injunction will be issued is scheduled for October 1, 2007.   Government Officials had planned to send the first warning letters Tuesday and mail 140,000 letters to employers by Nov. 9, 2007. 

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Good News! CIS Reopens EB Adjustment Filings. July 17, 2007

Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, Immigration Cases, Immigration Laws and Policies, Labor Cert, News and politics, Simply Immigration!, USCIS Press Release, Visa Bulletin.
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USCIS has announced that, beginning immediately, it will accept employment-based applications to adjust status (Form I-485) filed by aliens whose priority date are current under July Visa Bulletin, No. 107 (the one they retracted).  USCIS will accept applications until August 17, 2007.  Please pass on this announcement to all interested parties.

H-1B Petitions for FY2008 on April 2 March 28, 2007

Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, H-1B visa, Immigration Laws and Policies, MyComments, News and politics, Simply Immigration!, Tips.
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2008 (FY08) H-1B cap on Monday, April 2, 2007.  USCIS will not reject cases delivered during the weekend (March 31 or April 1).  Instead, USCIS will treat those petitions as if they arrived on April 2.  The deciding factor for USCIS is when the agency takes possession on the petition and not when the petition was postmarked.
 

USCIS will monitor cap cases closely and will inform the public of the date the agency has received enough petitions to meet the FY08 H-1B cap.  After that date, known as the “final receipt date,” USCIS will not accept any additional petitions requesting H-1B cases that apply against the FY08 congressionally mandated cap.

If you need more information or attorney assisatnce for your H-1B petitions, please feel free to contact David Sheen at david@jdgloballaw.com or call us as 510.438.6868 to make an appointment.   

CIS released new H-1B/H-4 timing and extension policies January 1, 2007

Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, H-1B visa, Immigration Laws and Policies, Info for Doctors and Health Professionals, MyComments, Simply Immigration!, Tips, USCIS Press Release.
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Good news to H-1B holders!  CIS recently released their new policies that addresses several H-1B timing issues.  The following policies will be in effect January 2007:

1.  Time spent as an H-4 and L-2 dependent does not count against the maximum allowable periods of stay available to principals in H-1B or L-1 status.

2. Individuals do not need to be in H-1B status or in the U.S. in order to request additional H-1B time beyond six years under AC21.

3.  Individual who was in the U.S. in H-1B status for less than six years and then subsequently leaves the U.S. for more than one year, may elect to either be re-admitted for the remainder of the initial six-year admission period w/o being counted against the cap OR seek to be admitted as a new H-1B subject to the cap.

Separating of H-4 and L-2 Time from H-1B and L-1 Time

The first issue addressed in this CIS memo is how to count H-4 and L-2 time against maximum periods allowed under H-1B and L-2 time.  For example, would an individual present in the U.S. in L-2 status for the past 6 years be eligible for any H-1B time?  The answer is yes.

USCIS clarifies that any time spent in H-4 status will not count against the 6-year maximum period of admission applicable to H-1B individuals.  For example, an individual who was previously in H-4 dependent status and who subsequently becomes an H-1B principal is entitled to the maximum period of stay applicable under H-1B time.

Periods of Stay on H-1B Status Beyond 6 Years Pursuant to AC21 (H-1b portability law)

The second issue addressed in this CIS memo deals with requesting extensions beyond six years under AC21 even if the individual is no longer in H-1B status or no longer in the U.S.  For example, if someone previously maxed out H-1B time and changed to TN status, and s/he is now eligible for H-1B time beyond six years under AC21, can s/he request more H-1B time even though s/he is now in TN status?  The answer is yes.

The memo reads “Though both provisions of AC21 use the term “extension of stay,” eligibility for the exemptions is not restricted solely to requests for extensions of stay while in the United States.  Aliens who are eligible for the 7th year extension may be granted an extension of stay regardless of whether they are currently in the United States or abroad and regardless of whether they currently hold H-1B status.”

H-1B Remainder Option

The third issue in this CIS memo addressed the situation of an individual who did not max out his or her H-1B time but subsequently left the U.S. for more than one year.  For example, if an individual was previously in the U.S. in H-1B status for less than six years, and then subsequently leaves the U.S. for more than one year, may s/he be re-admittted for anytime remaining from their previous H-1B admission period or does s/he now need to admitted as a new H-1B with a new six years available, but subject to the cap?  The answer is actually either and up to the individual.

The memo futher provides…

“There have been instances where an alien who was previously admitted to the United States in H-1B status, but did not exhaust his or her entire period of admission, seeks readmission to the United States in H-1B status for the remainder of his or her initial six-year period of maximum admission, rather than seeking a new six -year period of admission,  pending AC21 regulations, USCIS for now will allow an alien in the situation described above to elect to either (1) to be re-admitted for the “remainder” of the initial six-year admission period without being subject to the H-1B cap if previously counted or (2) seek to be readmitted as a “new” H-1B alien subject to the H-1B cap.”

Under this new policy, if the H-1B cap is an issue, the option will be for the individual to come in now and take whatever H-1B time they have left, or wait and file under the cap and have six-years available again.

Congress Passes Physicians for Underserved Areas Act December 15, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, Immigration Laws and Policies, Info for Doctors and Health Professionals.
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On December 9, 2006, the Senate passed the Physicians for Underserved Areas Act (H.R. 4997) by a voice vote, clearing the bill for enactment by the President. The House approval came three days earlier, also by voice vote, on December 6, 2006. The bill extends a visa waiver program, often referred to as Conrad 30, that allows foreign physicians who work in underserved areas to remain in the country after completing their medical training. The authorization for the program expired on June 1, 2006. Once it is signed into law by the President, H.R. 4997 will reinstate the visa waiver program for an additional period of two years.

Congress Adjourns Without Enacting H-1B and EB Relief December 12, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in Action, Employment-Based Immigration, H-1B visa, Simply Immigration!.
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Congress adjourned on Saturday, 12/9/06, without passing measures to provide relief from the restrictive H-1B visa cap and employment-based (EB) green card backlogs. However, Americam Immigration Lawyers Association plans to resume its push for H-1B and EB relief in early 2007, when new Congressional leaders, and committee and subcommittee chairs, are in place.

Change in Who May Sign I-907 December 12, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, H-1B visa, Immigration Laws and Policies.
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USCIS Service Center Operations has informed AILA that the Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service must be signed either by the petitioner, or, by the attorney for the petitioner, but only if the petitioner has filed a Power of Attorney with the USCIS Service Center where the I-907 is being filed authorizing the attorney to sign the I-907, a copy of the power of attorney is attached, and a G-28 is attached. Because the reasons for the processing change are not clear, AILA SCOPS liaison is seeking clarification…

-AILA

H-1B & EB Advocates Continue to Push for Relief December 6, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, H-1B visa, Immigration Laws and Policies, Immigration reform, MyComments, Simply Immigration!.
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As the House and Senate reconvene today for the final days of the 109th Congress, the chances of enacting H-1B visa and employment-based (EB) green card relief look increasingly slim. Despite behind-the-scenes efforts by immigration advocates and sympathetic members of Congress, reports suggest that the lame duck session is unlikely to offer an appropriate legislative vehicle for measures that would alleviate the caps and backlogs faced by high-skilled immigrants and their American employers.Plans by Republican leadership to pass a continuing resolution instead of completing appropriations legislation would preclude passage of H-1B and EB relief as part of fiscal 2007 spending bills. However, Congress may vote on a number of authorization bills this week, opening up a small possibility that H-1B and EB relief could be passed as part of authorization legislation.

Improvements to the Visa Waiver Program November 29, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in Action, Employment-Based Immigration, Immigration Laws and Policies, MyComments, News and politics, Simply Immigration!, Tips, USCIS Press Release.
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Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff issued a statement on security improvements to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It followed President Bush’s announced intention to work with Congress to reform the VWP to encourage some international allies to join the program.

Here is the complete press release–

Release Date: November 28, 2006

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: (202) 282-8010

President Bush has announced his intention to work with Congress to reform the Visa Waiver Program by strengthening security measures to better facilitate the increased interest among some international allies in joining the program. Americans rightly expect this Department to fulfill its legal and moral obligation to secure our borders from those who would do us harm, while maintaining our great legacy as a welcoming country to legitimate foreign visitors. These reforms will accomplish both objectives, and encourage international allies that their goal of joining the Visa Waiver Program is a realistic one.

The Visa Waiver Program began in 1988 in the pre-9/11 world. In a post-9/11 environment, homeland security must be the priority. We can achieve greater security and greater efficiency in our Visa Waiver Program.

We envision a secure travel authorization system that will allow us to receive data about travelers from countries before they get on the plane. Countries that are willing to assist the United States in doing effective checks on travelers could be put on track to enter the program soon. For countries seeking admission to the Visa Waiver Program, this would be an opportunity to set a standard that will be applied to the program generally.

We want to welcome people who are interested in working or traveling in the United States provided they abide by the terms of their admission and, also importantly, provided they don’t furnish a security threat. I want to stress that the United States will equally accept the burden of new security measures and will not require citizens of visa waiver countries to adopt measures that we are unwilling to undertake ourselves. The Department looks forward to working with Congress and our foreign allies to improve the visa waiver eligibility requirements.

VISA BULLETIN FOR DECEMBER 2006 November 28, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in Employment-Based Immigration, Immigration by Marriage, Visa Bulletin.
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FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First:  Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens:  23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second:  Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent
Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, and any unused first preference numbers:

A.  Spouses and Children:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B.  Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older):  23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third:  Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth:  Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens:  65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First: Priority Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference
level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second
preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “Other Workers”.  

Schedule A Workers: Employment First, Second, and Third preference Schedule A applicants are entitled to up to 50,000 “recaptured” numbers.

Fourth:  Certain Special Immigrants:  7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth:  Employment Creation:  7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of P.L. 102-395.

4.  INA Section 203(e) provides that family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas be issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition in behalf of each has been filed.  Section 203(d) provides that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal.  The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limit.  These provisions apply at present to the following oversubscribed chargeability areas:  CHINA-mainland born, INDIA, MEXICO, and PHILIPPINES.

5.  On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); “C” means current, i.e., numbers are available for all qualified applicants; and “U” means unavailable, i.e., no numbers are available.  (NOTE:  Numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed below.)

Fam-ily All Charge- ability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPP-INES
1st  22APR01 22APR01 22APR01 01JAN94 01DEC91
2A 01MAR02 01MAR02 01MAR02 15JAN00 01MAR02
2B 08MAR97 08MAR97 08MAR97 01MAR92 22AUG96
3rd 08DEC98 08DEC98 08DEC98 01JAN95 08FEB91
4th 01DEC95 22MAY95 22SEP95 22NOV93 01JUN84

*NOTE:  For December, 2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 15JAN00.  2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 15JAN00 and earlier than 01MAR02. (All 2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no 2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)

  All
Charge-ability
Areas
Except
Those
Listed
CHINA-
mainland born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIP-PINES
Employ-ment
-Based
         
1st C C C C C
2nd C 22APR05 08JAN03 C C
3rd 01AUG02 01AUG02 22APR01 08MAY01 01AUG02
Schedule
A
Workers
U U U U U
Other
Workers
01OCT01 01OCT01 01OCT01 01OCT01 01OCT01
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C C C C
Iraqi & Afghani Translators 18SEP06 18SEP06 18SEP06 18SEP06 18SEP06
5th C C C C C
Targeted Employ-ment Areas/
Regional Centers
C C C C C

The Department of State has available a recorded message with visa availability information which can be heard at:  (area code 202) 663-1541.  This recording will be updated in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category:  Section 203(e) of the NACARA, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year.  This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program.  Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.