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Posts Tagged ‘US Consulates’

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

 

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

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Newsletter-collage

 

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.

Immigration Solutions | Kentucky Consular Center Auditing Visa Applications

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

As reported by AILA (The American Immigration Lawyers Association), the Department of State (DOS) Visa Office has confirmed at the March 24, 2010, AILA/DOS Liaison meeting that the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) has commenced verification of information contained in nonimmigrant visa petitions received from the USCIS (AILA InfoNet Doc. 10072868). Verification of information includes telephonic contact with petitioners related to factual aspects contained in the petition.

Background:

On November 17, 2007, DOS instructed consular posts that they must verify the details of approved NIV petitions through the Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) via the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD). Consular officers access the details of approved nonimmigrant visa petitions through the CCD in a PIMS report, which links an approved petition to a base petitioner record allowing superior tracking of NIV petitioner and petition information. The electronic PIMS record created by the KCC is the primary source of evidence used by consular officers to determine nonimmigrant visa (NIV) petition approval. In addition to the information submitted by the petitioner on the I-129, many of the PIMS reports also contain information from DOS’ Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU). The FPU performs research on petitioners, and as part of a pilot project, the FPU, on a random basis, verifies factual aspects related to the beneficiaries and their proposed U.S. employment.

Petitioner Reviews:

AILA has been advised that lack of information on the petitioner in the USCIS Computer Linked Information Management System (CLAIMS) system has resulted in DOS’ decision to create a base petitioner record as part of the PIMS report for all first time petitioners. To create this base petitioner record, the KCC verifies petitioner information contained in the petition including, but not limited to, review of the company website, company contact information, and use of Google earth to confirm that an office exists in an appropriate physical location. Once the base petitioner record is complete, the KCC will not normally re-verify the petitioner information for two years.

Beneficiary Reviews:

The DOS has also informed the AILA DOS Liaison Committee that the KCC has initiated a pilot program for verifying information related to beneficiaries and proposed U.S. employment. These checks are completed at random and are primarily completed through telephonic contact with petitioners. The telephonic contact by KCC is unannounced and should be anticipated to occur shortly after the petition is transferred to the KCC from the USCIS.

Once the review is completed, the findings of the beneficiary review are normally finalized within two days and available to consular officers. Consular officers are instructed to review the report, question the beneficiary regarding any discrepancies, and request that the KCC correct any information if a finding was in error. If the discrepancies were not in error, the consular officer will provide additional information to the KCC to update their report to include any additional incriminating evidence discovered during the course of the nonimmigrant visa interview.

The FPU has designated 15 contractors who have been authorized by the DOS to conduct these telephonic beneficiary reviews with petitioners. These contractors are authorized to contact the Petitioner and may request to speak to an authorized official. They will then ask a series of questions verifying certain information contained in the approved nonimmigrant visa petitions.

These include, but are not limited to:

1. Whether the petitioner, in fact, submitted the petition;

2. When was the petitioner incorporated

3. Where was the physical location of the petitioner

4. Number of employees

5. Names of shareholders

6. Location of Attorney of Record

7. General information regarding the petitioner’s operations and business plan

We’d like to provide employers with the following information and tips in handling these inquiries:

Request the name of the KCC contractor and confirm the credentials of the contractor with the KCC [(606) 526-7500] prior to providing any information.

  1. Contact our office to advise us of the telephonic contact by the KCC contractor.
  2. Do not speak with government agents or contractors without a witness present.  Both the witness and the interviewee should prepare notes of what questions were asked and label them “Privileged and Confidential/Prepared at the Direction of Counsel,” and submit them to our office for review and retention.
  3. Retain complete copies of your I-129 petitions and supporting documents in a confidential file maintained by the designated company official for easy access during a contractor call.
  4. Never guess at the answer to a question about the petition.  If the employer is unsure about some requested information, the employer should indicate that he/she will follow up with the KCC contractor to provide accurate information after such information is obtained.

Employers are reminded that the investigations conducted by the KCC are separate and apart from the investigations conducted by the Fraud Detection and National Security Unit (FDNS) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  DHS will continue to conduct its own fraud investigations using the FDNS unit.  FDNS conducts site visits of petitioning employers in an effort to combat fraudulent petitions.  Employers are reminded to contact our office if they receive a site visit from a Department of Homeland Security contractor.