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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.   

President Bush’s Plan For Comprehensive Immigration Reform January 28, 2007

Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration Laws and Policies, Immigration reform, News and politics, Simply Immigration!.
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During his State of the Union Address, President Bush Called On Congress To Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  The President believes that America can simultaneously be a lawful, economically dynamic, and welcoming society.  We must address the problem of illegal immigration and deliver a system that is secure, productive, orderly, and fair.  The President calls on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that will secure our borders, enhance interior and worksite enforcement, create a temporary worker program, resolve – without animosity and without amnesty – the status of illegal immigrants already here, and promote assimilation into our society. All elements of this problem must be addressed together – or none of them will be solved.  

For more detail information aour President Bush’s plan for imigration reform go to:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/stateoftheunion/2007/initiatives/immigration.html

House Immigration Subcommittee Members Announced January 25, 2007

Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration Laws and Policies, Immigration reform, News and politics, Simply Immigration!.
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On Wednesday, January 24, 2007, leaders of the House Committee on the Judiciary announced the membership roster of the newly named Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law (formerly the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims). Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) will chair the sixteen-member subcommittee, and Representatives Steve King (R-IA) and Elton Gallegly (R-CA) will serve as Ranking Member and Deputy Ranking Member, respectively.

Immigration Subcommittee members will also include: Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Artur Davis (D-AL), William Delahunt (D-MA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Randy Forbes (R-VA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Daniel Lungren (R-CA), Marin Meehan (D-MA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), and Maxine Waters (D-CA). Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who served on the Immigration Subcommittee during the 109th Congress and has been an outspoken supporter of comprehensive reform, was not reappointed to the Judiciary Committee by the Republican leadership.

The Immigration Subcommittee is part of the larger House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction not only over matters related to immigration, but also over a range of judicial issues such as judicial proceedings, federal courts, civil liberties, interstate compacts, and patents. In addition to the members of the Immigration Subcommittee, members of the House Judiciary Committee include: Committee Chair Representative Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member Representative Smith (R-TX), and Representatives Boucher (D-VA), Cannon (R-UT), Chabot (R-OH), Coble (R-NC), Cohen (D-TN), Feeney (R-FL), Franks (R-AZ), Issa (R-CA), Johnson (D-GA), Jordan (R-OH), Keller (R-FL), Nadler (D-NY), Pence (R-IN), Schiff (D-CA), Scott (D-VA), Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Sherman (D-CA), Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Watt (D-NC), Weiner (D-NY), and Wexler (D-FL).

Passport Requirements for Air Travel Now Effective January 25, 2007

Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration Laws and Policies, News and politics, Simply Immigration!, Tips, Travel Alert, USCIS Press Release.
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In a January 23, 2007 Press Release, DHS reminded the public that citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda are now required to present a valid passport at U.S. air ports-of-entry when entering from any part of the Western Hemisphere. The final rule on the travel document requirements of the first phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was published in the Federal Register on November 24, 2006. 71 FR 68411.

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.

DHS Announces $12 Million for Operation Stonegarden to Support Local Border Security Efforts December 18, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration Laws and Policies, News and politics, Simply Immigration!, USCIS Press Release.
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Release Date: December 15, 2006

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
DHS Press Office, (202) 282-8010

Washington – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today more than $12 million in grant awards to the four Southwest border states in support of ongoing local law enforcement efforts at the border. The funding, as part of Operation Stonegarden, assists local authorities with operational costs and equipment purchases that contribute to border security. The distribution of these funds is as follows: Arizona, $6,353,174; California, $1,000,000; New Mexico, $1,580,258; and Texas, $3,070,081.

“Local law enforcement plays an undeniable role in helping to combat crime and secure the border,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Our ultimate success at the border is going to require close coordination with local authorities and sustained commitments to remedying a security challenge that has been decades in the making.”

Operation Stonegarden began as a successful pilot program in fiscal year 2005 that involved 14 border states. The initiative gave states the flexibility to use DHS grant funding to enhance coordination among state and federal law enforcement agencies at our borders. The pilot program resulted in an estimated 214 state, local and tribal agencies working 36,755 man-days on various public safety and border security operations.

Funding for Operation Stonegarden was made available through the fiscal year 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror and Hurricane Recovery. The program requires states to identify and prioritize solutions to their border security needs.

Other resources for this initiative come from the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP). As part of the expansion of Operation Stonegarden in January 2006, the department announced that states had the ability to use up to 25 percent of unspent LETPP funds from fiscal years 2004 and 2005. In addition, states can now use up to of 25 percent of their fiscal year 2006 LETPP funds for border security-related activities.

The $12 million in funds released today by the department will supplement the states’ opportunity to utilize 25 percent of their fiscal year 2006 LETPP funds to further enhance critical border security operations. More than $384 million was awarded nationwide through the LETPP program in fiscal year 2006.

DOS Publishes Final Rule on Consular Interviews for NIV Applicants December 18, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration Laws and Policies, Simply Immigration!, USCIS Press Release.
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[Federal Register: December 18, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 242)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 75662-75663]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr18de06-4]
—————————————

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

22 CFR Part 41

[Public Notice: 5646]

Visas: Documentation of Nonimmigrants Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended

AGENCY: State Department.

ACTION: Final rule.

—————————————

SUMMARY: This final rule amends guidance to consular offices for the waiver of personal appearance of applicants for nonimmigrant visas contained at 22 CFR 41.102, to conform to the requirements of Section 222(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as added by section 5301 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). The final rule replaces the interim rule published in the Federal Register on July 7, 2003 and reflects legislation enacted subsequent to that rule.

DATES: This rule is effective on December 18, 2006.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charles Robertson, Legislation and Regulations Division, Visa Services, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-0106, (202) 663-1221, e-mail (robertsonce3@state.gov).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Why is the Department promulgating this rule?

Section 5301 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) added a new Section 222(h) to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 222(h) sets out detailed statutory requirements for personal interviews of non-immigrant visa applicants in the INA for the first time. Previously, INA Section 222(e) left the question of personal appearance of nonimmigrant visa applicants to be defined by regulation. The Department’s interim rule published on July 7, 2003 (68 FR 40168) defined the requirements for personal appearance. This final rule replaces the previous interim rule to reflect the requirements of IRTPA and the new INA Section 222(h). Most of new Section 222(h) can be implemented through the Department’s existing personal appearance regulations and current requirements for fingerprint collection, but a few changes in the regulations are needed to conform fully to the new interview requirements. The most significant change is that a consular officer must now interview persons in the same age ranges as persons covered by the biometric collection requirement. In addition to the existing list of situations in which an interview may not be waived, the personal interview requirement may not be waived for NIV applicants from third countries and applicants who have been previously refused visas or found ineligible for visas, where that ineligibility was not overcome.

Are there any exceptions to these new requirements?

Section 5301 of IRTPA provides for some exceptions from the new interview requirements. In addition, as the President noted in the signing statement for IRTPA, the interview requirement is viewed “as advisory” with respect to foreign diplomats or foreign officials, because it otherwise would impermissibly burden the President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations. Therefore, the regulations continue to permit exemptions from the interview requirements of persons in A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3 G-4, NATO- 1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO 6 classifications, and applicants for diplomatic or officials visas as described in 22 CFR 41.26 and 41.27.

Regulatory Findings

Administrative Procedure Act

This regulation involves a foreign affairs function of the United States and, therefore, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553 (a)(1), is not subject to the rule making procedures set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553.

[[Page 75663]]

Regulatory Flexibility Act/Executive Order 13272: Small Business

This rule is not subject to the notice-and-comment rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act or any other act, and, accordingly it does not require analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601, et seq.) and Executive Order 13272, section 3(b).

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UFMA), Pub. L. 104-4, 109 Stat. 48, 2 U.S.C. 1532, generally requires agencies to prepare a statement before proposing any rule that may result in an annual expenditure of $100 million or more by State, local, or tribal governments, or by the private sector. This rule will not result in any such expenditure, nor will it significantly or uniquely affect small governments.

The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

This rule is not a major rule as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804, for purposes of congressional review of agency rulemaking under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-121. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign based companies in domestic and import markets.

Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Review

The Department of State has reviewed this rule to ensure its consistency with the regulatory philosophy and principles set forth in Executive Order 12866 and has determined that the benefits of the proposed regulation justify its costs. The Department does not consider the rule to be an economically significant action within the scope of section 3(f)(1) of the Executive Order since it is not likely to have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or to adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or state, local, or tribal governments or communities.

Executive Orders 12372 and 13132: Federalism

This regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Nor will the rule have federalism implications warranting the application of Executive Orders No. 12372 and No. 13132.

Executive Order 12988: Civil Justice Reform

The Department has reviewed the proposed regulations in light of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order No. 12988 to eliminate ambiguity, minimize litigation, establish clear legal standards, and reduce burden.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule does not impose information collection requirements under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C., Chapter 35.

List of Subjects in 22 CFR Part 41

Aliens, Foreign officials, Immigration, Nonimmigrants, Passports and visas, Students.

For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department of State amends 22 CFR part 41 as follows:

PART 41–[AMENDED]

1. The authority citation for part 41 shall continue to read:

Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1104; Pub. L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681-795 through 2681-801. Additional authority is derived from Section 104 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) Pub. L. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3546.

2. Amend Sec. 41.102 as follows:

A. Revise paragraph (b),

B. Amend paragraph (c) by adding the phrase “Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section” to the beginning of the second sentence.

C. Redesignate paragraph (d) as (e) and add a new paragraph (d). The new and revised text reads as follows:

Sec. 41.102 Personal appearance of applicant

* * * * *

(b) Waivers of personal appearance by consular officers. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section or as otherwise instructed by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, a consular officer may waive the requirement of personal appearance in the case of any alien who the consular officer concludes presents no national security concerns requiring an interview and who:

(1) Is a child under 14 years of age;

(2) Is a person over 79 years of age;

(3) Is within a class of nonimmigrants classifiable under the visa symbols A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (except attendants, servants, or personal employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO-6 and who is seeking a visa in such classification;

(4) Is an applicant for a diplomatic or official visa as described in Sec. Sec. 41.26 or 41.27 of this chapter, respectively;

(5) Is an applicant who within 12 months of the expiration of the applicant’s previously issued visa is seeking re-issuance of a nonimmigrant biometric visa in the same classification at the consular post of the applicant’s usual residence, and for whom the consular officer has no indication of visa ineligibility or of noncompliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations; or

(6) Is an alien for whom a waiver of personal appearance is warranted in the national interest or because of unusual circumstances.

* * * * *

(d) Cases in which personal appearance may not be waived. A consular officer or the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State may not waive personal appearance for:

(1) Any NIV applicant who is not a national or resident of the country in which he or she is applying, unless the applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview under paragraphs (b)(3) or (b)(4) of this section.

(2) Any NIV applicant who was previously refused a visa, is listed in CLASS, or who otherwise requires a Security Advisory Opinion, unless:

(i) The visa was refused temporarily and the refusal was subsequently overcome;

(ii) The alien was found inadmissible, but the inadmissibility was waived; or

(iii) The applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview under paragraphs (b)(3) or (b)(4) of this section.

(3) Any NIV applicant who is from a country designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor of terrorism, regardless of age, or in a group designated by the Secretary of State under section 222(h)(2)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, unless the applicant is eligible for a waiver under paragraphs (b)(3) or (b)(4) of this section.

* * * * *

Dated: November 30, 2006.
Maura Harty,
Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. E6-21492 Filed 12-15-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4710-06-P

Clarification of Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Signature Policy December 15, 2006

Posted by dsheen88 in H-1B visa, Immigration Laws and Policies, USCIS Press Release.
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In the days leading up to December 13, 2006, AILA received reports that USCIS Service Centers were rejecting forms I-907 Request for Premium Processing signed by attorneys for petitioners, declaring that an attorney signature can be accepted only if a Power of Attorney is attached. USCIS Service Centers Operations (SCOPS) has now clarified that the Power of Attorney requirement is limited to those circumstances where an individual other than the petitioner or applicant is signing a form as the petitioner or applicant, and it is accompanied by an I-907 signed by the G-28 attorney. Clarification of Form I-907 Signature Policy is provided by AILA’s SCOPS Liaison.