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Archive for the ‘Department of State’ Category

BREAKING NEWS ——Those who were blocked from entering US in 1st Travel Ban, can now reapply for visas to enter the USA

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

USA_shutterstock_modified_worldandflags(2)The legal challenge that helped to free scores of travelers who were detained at airports around the country in the confusing early days of President Trump’s travel ban, prompting thousands of demonstrators to demand their release, was quietly settled on Thursday in a Brooklyn courtroom. Those who were   blocked from entering the United States can now reapply for visas to enter the US, according to a settlement reached in the case that temporarily blocked the travel ban back in January.

About 2,000 people were detained during the almost 24-hour time period from when the first travel ban went into effect to when the temporary stay blocked the travel ban from being implemented. Roughly 140 people were denied entry and sent back to their country of origin in that time period based on documents the ACLU obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request.

Under the settlement, the government is required to send letters to notify those who were denied entry under the first travel ban that they are now eligible to reapply for a visa — using the most current information from their visa applications.  Approval is not guaranteed, but the government agreed to process their applications in good faith.

The agreement did not provide any damages or monetary compensation for those affected by the ban, nor any award of legal fees to the groups who fought it in court. People who never reached an American airport because they were kept from boarding flights are not covered by the settlement.

For more on this refer here:  CNN:  http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/31/politics/trump-travel-ban-settlement/index.html and the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/us/trump-travel-ban-lawsuit-settlement.html?mcubz=0

 

DOS/USCIS’ Lame Attempt at ‘streamlining'(?) the Immigrant Visa Process

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Immigration_dreamstime_xs_5361678 (2)Stakeholders are outraged by the most recent development with the so-called streamlining of the allocation of immigrant visas that are published monthly in the Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Bulletin.

Unless otherwise indicated on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo,
individuals seeking to file applications for adjustment of status with USCIS in the Department of Homeland Security must use the “Application Final Action Dates” charts in the Visa Bulletin for determining when they can file such applications. When USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for the fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state on its website that applicants may instead use the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” charts in the Bulletin.  The USCIS website statement is supposed to be posted within one week of the Visa Bulletin publish date.

Applicants for adjustment of status may refer to USCIS for additional information by visiting www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo.  USCIS has indicated on their website (above link) that that you may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart for the corrected October 2015 and November 2015 Visa Bulletins.

Something has absolutely got to change here.  This has reached a level of complete and utter absurdity.

Refer here for November filing date information.

For background information on this issue, refer here

 

PERM: DOL Proposes User Fees to Modernize Labor Certification Processing

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

NEWS_iStock_000015711880XSmallRepresentatives from the Department of Labor (DOL) provided clues to their efforts to modernize the labor certification process used to sponsor foreign national workers for legal permanent residence, including the use of fees to advance that goal.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Portia Wu told attendees of the Council for Global Immigration’s 2015 Symposium, June 10, 2015, in Washington, D.C., that the agency intends to issue a proposed rule later this year specifically modifying the PERM requirements and process.

The PERM process requires employers to adhere to a set of recruitment steps to demonstrate that workers are receiving at least the prevailing wage for the position and locality and that there are no U.S. workers willing and available to fill the position.

The PERM Labor Certification program has not been reviewed since its inception in 2005. Technological advances have significantly altered industry recruitment practices, and the department has received a lot of feedback that the existing requirements governing the PERM recruitment process do not align with worker or industry needs and practices.  Some of the most frustrating issues include the lack of expedited processing, the inability to correct technical errors and the use of outdated and expensive modes of recruitment, such as newspaper print ads.

USCIS Announces H-1B FY 2015 Cap has been met

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Visa_iStock_000016934361_ExtraSmall (2)

 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2015.  USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U. S. advanced degree exemption.

Before running a random selection process, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period which ended today. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date on which it will conduct the random selection process.

A computer-generated process will randomly select the number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions that are not selected, unless found to be a duplicate filing.

The agency will conduct the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All advanced degree petitions not selected will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

Avoiding the H-1B Cap

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

iStock_GlobeAirplanePP_000012052479XSmallIf you Previously had an H-1B for Less than 6 Years

Pursuant to § 212(g)7) of the The Act, if you had an H-1B in the past and were in the USA for less than 6 years, you may be eligible to recoup the time that is remaining on the 6-year maximum period of stay to accept employment with a new employer – without being counted against the cap.  An example of this would be someone who works for 3 years in H-1B classification and decides to go back to school on an F-1 student visa.  This individual would be eligible to apply for an H-1B for the remaining 3 years at any time of the year.

If you are abroad for at least one year, you have the choice to either apply for a “new” cap H-1B  for a full 6-year period, or take advantage of the remainder option if you previously had an H-1B.

H-1B 7th Year Extensions – How This Works

If you are the beneficiary of a labor certification or an I-140 petition that was filed 1 year prior to your 6th year in H-1B status, pursuant to §106 of AC21, you are permitted to file for a 7th year extension.  You are also permitted, according to §104(c) of AC21, to apply for a 3-year extension of your H-1B when you have an approved I-140 petition and are unable to move forward with filing your permanent residency case due to employment-based immigrant visa country limits (referred to as retrogression).

If you are in the US and out of status due to a layoff, or are abroad, you are entitled to a 7th year extension of your H-1B if your labor certification or I-140 petition was filed before your 6th year in H-1B status with either the sponsoring employer, or with a new employer.  You will more than likely be required to consular process your case in these scenarios.

It is recommended that you seek the advice of a skilled immigration professional with the above cases as they are complex in nature.

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Infosys to pay $34M in Fines for Visa Fraud and I-9 Violations

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

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Infosys is India’s second largest software exporter, and has about 30,000 workers in the U.S. (160,000 worldwide) with $6B in sales.

After years of investigation, it was found that Infosys “knowingly and unlawfully” brought Indian workers into the United States on B-1 business visitor visas( since 2008), to circumvent  the higher costs and delays of a longer-term employment-related visa, such as the H-1B visa that the workers should have had.  It was found that Infosys systematically submitted misleading information to US immigration authorities and consular officials to obtain the B-1 visas that do not permit employment, unfairly gaining a competitive edge and undercutting American workers qualified for the jobs

Press release states: “Infosys failed to maintain I-9 records for many of its foreign nationals in the United States in 2010 and 2011 as required by law, including a widespread failure to update and re-verify the employment authorization status of a large percentage of its foreign national employees…more than 80 percent of Infosys’s I-9 forms for 2010 and 2011 contained substantive violations.”

The largest fine of its kind, was paid out as follows: $5 million to Homeland Security Investigations, $5 million to the Department of State, and $24 million to the DOJ.

How can employers protect themselves?

The five federal agencies charged with workplace enforcement are not only going after businesses that are known to employ undocumented workers, but they are also making examples out of industry leaders across the country creating headline news. It goes without saying, that this is now a topic that should be on HR executives’ action list.  Turning a blind eye can be exceedingly costly and cause great damage to a company’s reputation.

For more on this Story:  CBS Reports   NY Times

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Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Process goes ‘live’ March 4, 2013

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

This new process allows certain immediate relatives of US citizens who are physically present in the USA and are seeking permanent residence, to apply for and receive provisional unlawful presence waivers BEFORE departing the US for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications abroad.

The benefit of this is that it will reduce the time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives while those family members go through the consular process overseas to obtain an immigrant visa. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who would need a waiver of unlawful presence in order to obtain an immigrant visa could file a new Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, before leaving the United States to obtain an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. All individuals eligible for this streamlined process are still required to depart the United States and must meet all legal requirements for issuance of an immigrant visa and admission to the United States.

An individual may seek a provisional unlawful presence waiver if he or she:

  • Is physically present in the United States;
  • Is at least 17 years of age;
  • Is the beneficiary of an approved immigrant visa petition (I-130) classifying him or her as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen;
  • Is actively pursuing the immigrant visa process and has already paid the Department of State immigrant visa processing fee;
  • Is not subject to any other grounds of inadmissibility other than unlawful presence; and
  • Can demonstrate that the refusal of admission would result in extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse or parent.

An immediate relative would not be eligible for the proposed process if he or she:

  • Has an application already pending with USCIS for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident;
  • Is subject to a final order of removal or reinstatement of a prior removal order;
  • May be found inadmissible at the time of the consular interview for reasons other than unlawful presence; or
  • Has already been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Allowing immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to receive provisional waivers in the United States before departure for their immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate means that:

  • Immigrant visa processing times will improve because of greater capacity in the United States and fewer case transfers between USCIS and the Department of State;
  • Immigrant visas will be issued without unnecessary delay (if the individual is otherwise eligible); and
  • The period of separation and hardship many U.S. citizens would face due to prolonged separation from their family members will be minimized.

For additional information,we link to the I-601A Questions and Answers document.

Should you wish to become a client of our office, please contact us.

Mexico Expands Interview Waiver Eligibility for Visa Renewals

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Mexico City, June 29, 2012 (as reported on ILW.com)  – Following President Obama’s efforts to promote travel and tourism as important contributions to job creation and economic growth, the U.S. Embassy is pleased to announce that beginning July 1, 2012, an expanded visa renewal program  will allow many more Mexican citizens and residents to renew their nonimmigrant visas without a follow-up interview at the Embassy or a U.S. Consulate.

Currently, most visas that have been expired for 12 months or less may be renewed after the applicant’s appointment at the Applicant Service Center (ASC), in other words, without a second appointment/interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Under the new program, you can apply for a renewal of your visa if your current visa has expired within 48 months or less of your renewal application.

This expanded interview waiver program will make the visa process even more convenient and improve visa processing times, strengthening ties through travel and trade between the United States and Mexico. Tens of thousands of Mexican travelers should benefit from this expanded program, saving time and money, and allowing more convenient travel to the United States for business and tourism.

Additional details and qualification requirements for the new interview waiver program can be found on the websites of the U.S. Embassy and each U.S Consulate in Mexico, as indicated above. Contact our office should you have any questions regarding the new procedure at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996.

 

EB-2 India-China Green-Card Quota Reached | News from Immigration Compliance Group

Friday, April 27th, 2012

It has been reported to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) by a senior Department of State official that immigrant visas for EB-2 India and mainland China were exhausted for this fiscal year as of April 11th. USCIS will continue to accept EB-2 India/China adjustment of status applications based on the priority date cut-offs in both the April and May 2012 Visa Bulletins, but the cases will be on hold until the start of the new 2013 fiscal year as of 10/1/2012 when quotas open up again.  We link to the Visa Bulletins for April and May.

According to the Visa Bulletins, EB-2 India /China applicants with priority dates earlier than May 1, 2010 can continue to file adjustment of status applications with USCIS through April 30, 2012. Those with priority dates earlier than August 15, 2007 can continue to file through May 31, 2012.

I-9, E-Verify and Immigration News for March 2011

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Our March 2011 news is now available.  You can access our Immigration News here and our I-9 Compliance Newsletter here.  Should you wish to discuss your immigration case with us, we can be contacted at info@immigrationsolution.net or by phone at 562 612.3996.

We have a volume of free information on our websites that includes newsletters, news flashes, podcasts, blog, and articles.  Please feel free to sign up on our website:  www.immigrationsolution.net to receive our information through email or iTUNES.