Monday, September 24, 2012

Rep. Lamar Smith & Sen. Chuck Grassley Letter to DHS Requesting DACA Implementation Detailed Statistics

On 09/20/2012, these legislators sent a joint letter requesting the DHS Secretary to maintain, publish and provide on a weekly basis DACA implementation statistics. The letter is requesting very detailed information. The USCIS released some statistics recently, but these legislators are requesting details.

You can read the letter here:  http://www.grassley.senate.gov/judiciary/upload/Immigration-09-20-12-CEG-LS-letter-to-JN-on-deferred-action-for-childhood-arrivals.pdf

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Senate Session Ended Until 11/13/2012 for Lame Duck Session After Passing Continuing Resolution and a Large Number of Bills on Unanimous Consents

  • Senate was struggling to deal with the Continuing Resolution in order to end the session this weekend, primarily because of a couple of amendments introduced on the floor to the Continuing Resolution. After riding a roller coaster, the Senate reconvened after 11:30 p.m. last night and worked through the midnight and until early this morning. Then after passing a motion to cloture, the Senate was able to pass the Continuing Resolution without any amendments since the amendments were eventually withdrawn. Passage of the Continuing Resolution was followed by passage of a large number of legislative bills by last minute Unanimous Consents without votes. H.R. 3012 or any related immigration bills were not one of those that were taken up for the unanimous consent. The fate for H.R. 3012 and related bills are doomed in the 112th Congress after this Congressional session.
  • Wow, the yesterday's Senate session was literally dramatic and breath-taking. After all, they were able to prevent a shut-down of the federal government at least until March 27, 2013 and will leave the Hill to join their constituents in their districts for election campaign. The Senate will have Pro Forma sessions but there will be no voting sessions until they return on 11/13/2012. 

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DHS Releases September 2012 Edition of 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

This is a huge one volume yearbook that covers a wide range of statistics which will be valuable to the libraries, academic institutions, research entities, and historians, immigration strategiests, etc.

 http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/immigration-statistics/yearbook/2011/ois_yb_2011.pdf

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Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana Introduced Interesting Bill Yesterday Making Voting in Federal Election by "Unlawfully Present" Aliens an "Aggravated Felony"

Yesterday, Senator from the State of Louisiana introduced in the Senate S.3579 "Protect Voter Integrity Act" to make voting in a Federal election by an "unlawfully present" alien an aggravated felony. 

This bill is intended to turn such aliens subjected to expedited removal from the United States under the immigration law. The full text has yet to be released but it is interesting to note that it applies to "unlawfully present" aliens only and apparently not "lawfully present" aliens, even though any aliens, whether in lawful present or unlawful present status, voting in the federal elections is a crime under the current law. If this Senator introduced this bill targeting at DACA beneficiaries to scare them off from coming out of the closets, probably the bill should have included a separate definition of "unlawfully present" for federal election law in his bill. 

Remember that in Obama Care Act and other federal health care benefit areas, lately the HHS excluded the DACA beneficiaries from the healthcare benefits. Here is the press release of the Senator Vitter.

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Smith STEM Bill Failed to Pass by 257 - 158 in the House

In the Roll Call Vote in the House today, this bill failed to get two-third votes to pass. It only got 257 yes and 158 no.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

USCIS Policy for Accommodating Religious Beliefs during Photograph and Fingerprint Capture

This policy  memorandum  (PM)  sets forth policy for the capture of photographs or fingerprints by
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees and contractors during the
course of their duties.  This PM  explains when accommodations are to be offered to individuals
wearing religious headwear or professing religious beliefs, what accommodations should be
offered, and to whom the accommodations should be offered.  Additionally, USCIS will continue
to deny requests for a waiver of the photo graph requirement, in line with existing guidance.
1
 
USCIS will not waive the photograph requirement, in any situation, based on a religious
objection.

Read more: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/2012/August%202012/Accommodating%20Religious%20Beliefs%20PM.pdf

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Senate and House introduces STEM bill

Powerful Senator Chuck Schumer who is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee has released his version of STEM bill "BRAINS Act" which is somewhat close to the Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren bill in the House in that it gives 50,000 new STEM visas, but unlike the Rep. Smith bill, will not eliminate the immigration lottery program and rather add some restrictions to the for-profit employers sponsoring such STEM immigration petitions. 

The Smith STEM bill, even if it passes in the Republican House day after tomorrow, 09/20/2012, the Democratic Senate will not pass the Smith bill as it is now and more or less support the concept of Rep. Zoe Lofgren's proposal which has suffered slapping in the face by the Republican House that will put the Republican bill on the floor for vote as soon as the bill is introduced tomorrow. while the Lofgren.s bill has been ignored in scheduling for either hearing or putting on the voting in the Republican House.

Read on. For the reasons, it is speculated that the STEM bill will go nowhere before the national election. Both parties are just reacting to the mounting political pressures from high tech industry. Read on.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Visa Agreement Took Effect on 09/09/2012 Between U.S. and Russia for Travel

  • The State Department has announced this agreement as a historic agreement. The changes include, among others:
    • Three-year, multiple-entry visas will be issued as the standard “default” visa for U.S. citizens visiting Russia and Russian citizens visiting the United States;
    • Diplomatic and official visa holders on temporary assignments will receive one-year, multiple-entry visas;
    • The agreement streamlines the visa issuance process by reducing the documentation required. For example, the Russian government will no longer require U.S. citizens to provide formal, “registered” invitation letters when applying for Russian business visas or visas for private visits, although applicants seeking Russian tourist visas must continue to hold advance lodging reservations and arrangements with a tour operator;
    • Both sides have committed to keeping standard visa processing times under 15 days, although the circumstances of individual cases may require additional processing; and
    • The $100 issuance – or reciprocity – fee for Russians issued U.S. visas for business or tourism (visa types B1/B2) will decrease to $20.
  • Please read the full text of the announcement.

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H-1B Cap for FY13 was Reached 06/11/2012

USCIS has announced that On June 11, 2012, it received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the statutory cap for FY 2013. On June 7, 2012, USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject petitions subject to the cap for H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY 2013 that are received after June 11, 2012.

Another USCIS announcement clarifies three points:
    • Definition of "Receipt" Within the Cap: the cap filing must have been "physically" delivered to the USCIS offices of jurisdictions before the end of business day of 06/11/2012. The term "physical delivery" is a tricky term and readers are advised to go back to our earlier posting on this subject. Postmark is not enough. Any filings that arrive after June 11, 2012 will be rejected.
    • Master Cap Cases: The agency received enough Master cap H-1B petitions as of 06/07/2012. Since any master cap cases which exceed the master cap numbers were automatically taken in as part of the regular cap cases taking the cap numbers out of the regular cap pool, inasmuch as their cases were physically delivered to the agency within the business day of June 11, 2012, their cases will be counted within the cap. The announcement of reach of regular cap included such master cap cases which exceeded the 20,000 cap in the final count of the regular cap.
    • Cap announcement does not affect those who will apply for extension of their H-1B status either with the same employer or different employer since their cap number has already been taken out and counted already when they had first obtained the H-1B petition approval. Here, probably use of the term "extension" is misnomer because there could be some people whose H-1B petitions had been approved and counted but have yet to be used and yet to enter the country in a H-1B visa status or if already in the U.S. in other nonimmigrant status, change of status from other nonimmigrant status to a H-1B status based on the previously approved H-1B petition, provided that the approved H-1B petition must not have been revoked by the agency. These cases are "not subject" to the H-1B cap, but "not" exempt from H-1B cap. There has been confusion about these two terms. Even the H-1B petition forms uses the "Cap Exampt" confusingly. Under the immigration statutues, there are certain employers such as higher learning institutions, non-profit or government research entities or others which are listed in Part C. 3 of I-129 H-1B Data Collection Supplement Form that are exempt from the annual cap of H-1B by "special provisions." These are so called "Cap Exempt" cases. These Cap Exempt employers can keep filng H-1B petitions for professional workers inasmuch as they meet the threshold requirements for qualified employer and for the qualified professional as defined in these special provisions.
  • Employers are advised to keep the proof of delivery safe until the Receipt Notice is received in the mail.

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Remarkable Change of Investor Immigrant Trend as Reflected in the I-529 and I-829 Statistics of the USCIS Between 2005 and 2012

On 06/28/2012, the USCIS released the statistics of processing of I-529 investor immigrant petition (2-year conditional permanent resident status based on qualified investment) and I-829 removal of conditional resident status petition (after two years in conditional resident status). As summarized in the following table, the change in number of petitions and the rate of approval are literally dramatic. In 2005, they received only 332 I-529 petitions and only 53% petitions were approved, while in 2011 the number of I-529 increased to 3,805 petitions and the approval rate also increased to 81%. For the first two quarters alone of 2012 (ending 03/31/2012), the number of new I-529 petitions marked 2,771 and 85% of the petitions were approved. The statistics of removal of the two-year conditional resident status based on investment immigrant program also reflect a remarkable changes: Only 37 removal petition in 2005 with 62% of approval rate, while by 2011, the number increased to 2,345 and 96% of approval rate!
 
FY
I-526 Receipts
I-526 Approval Rate
I-829 Receipts
I-829 Approval Rate
2005
332
53%
27
62%
2008
1,257
84%
390
70%
2011
3,805
81%
2,345
96%
2012 (First 2 Quarters)
2,771
85%
375
96%
TOTAL
12,410

4,635


For the full statistics, please click here. Part of these investments represent "equity" investments feeding capital to this country's enterprises to create jobs and generate associated businesses. This trend of immigration policy is contrasted with skilled worker immigrant programs that have been continuously constrained by the restrictive immigration policy of the nation. Common sense should dictate that "brain" should be as important as "money or capital" for the long-term growth of this nation and sustaining power of its leadership in the world.


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Senator Grassley Lifted Hold on H.R. 3012

  • Senator Grassley put the following statement in The Congressional Record regarding lifting his hold on H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.
    • Mr. President, Today, I lift my hold on H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. This bill would eliminate the per-country numerical limitations for employment–based immigrants and change the per-country numerical limitations for family-based immigrants.
  • For the full text which is released by the Senator Grassley, please click here. Since the H.R. 3012 will be amended, even if the Senate passes the bill, the bill will have to go back to the House for its action. There was also unconfirmed speculation that there could be an attempt by the Irish community to bring an amendment to this bill adding E-3 visa for Irish. This has yet to be confirmed. It is not confirmed that on what conditions, Sen. Chuck Shumer of New York agreed to the compromise. Readers may recall that it is Senator Churck Schumer who sponsored a bill attaching H.R. 3012 and E-3 visa for the Irish, including certain relief for undocumented Irish people. Indeed, the Irish community was divided on E-3 bill between Sen. Brown that sponsored only "legal" Irish E-3 visa bill, while Chuck Schumer sponsored undocumented Irish relief provision in the text. The Irish Community in New York supported such bill and the Irish community in Massachusetts opposed undocumented Irish relief bill, reflecting charateristics of two different Irish communities in the East Coast. We will watch carefully development of this bill. 

Bill Detail: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.3012: 

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New Web Page for All Foreign Labor Certification Application Statistics in One Place

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification, DOL, has created and released a new web page that allows access to most of the important foreign labor certification statistics in one place, including annaul or quarterly foreign labor certification performance data, selected statistics of permanent and temporary foreign labor certification processing by program, and disclosure data.

http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/performancedata.cfm

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Entire USCIS Website in Spanish Language

To assist Hispanic customers who feel more confortable to read everytday the USCIS website in their own language, Spanish, the USCIS developed and posted the Spanish language USCIS website

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis-es

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CBP Travel Update: I-94 Data Entry Notice

  • CBP (Customs and Border Protection) is in the process of automating traveler arrival records to streamline passenger processing. The current processing time for entering foreign visitors’ travel information into the I-94 database is 30 days or more. This does not affect the majority of foreign travelers visiting for business or leisure and will not affect any visitor’s record of departure.
  • Visitors may need to prove their legal-visitor status within the first 30-45 days of their U.S. stay to:
    • Employers;
    • Motor vehicle registration or drivers’ licensing agencies;
    • The Social Security Administration;
    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; or
    • Universities and schools.
  • If during this timeframe, visitors need to provide evidence of legal status they should include the following:
    • Unexpired foreign passport; and
    • Country of Citizenship
    • CBP Arrival/Departure Record, Form I-94 (if issued)
  • This announcement is related to earlier report that the CBP is creating its own code numbers (other than I-94) at the port of entry, which will serve as the legal sources to verify the sources of verification of legal status rather than I-94.

Source: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/i-94_instructions/i94_data_entry.xml 

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DV-2014 Lottery Schedule

DV 2014 Program: Online registration for the DV-2014 Program will begin on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and conclude on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4)

Main Source: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1322.html

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DACA Eligible DREAMers: Who Are They and Where They Are?

  • The latest information released in August 2012 by Migrant Policy Institute gives the nation a glimpse of the location and characteristics of the DREAMers who are/will be eligible for the DACA applications per the USCIS DACA guidelines which was released on 08/03/2012. The following represents some information of the location and characteristics and readers should read the whole report (only 10 pages) themselves for the details:
    • How Many? Estimated at 1.76 million nationwide
    • Where Are They From?
      • 87% from Americas (76% from Mexico and Central America, 11% from Caribbean & South America)
      • 9% from Asia
      • 6% Rest of the world
    • Age Group:
      • 800,000 (K-12 grade children)
      • 140,000 (College enrollment group)
      • 80,000 (Degree earned group: Minimum of AA degree)
    • Education Level in Degree Earned Group? (Who Have Already Earned Minimum of AA or Higher Degrees)
      • 48% AA degree
      • 44% Bachelor's degree
      • 8% Advanced Degree
    • Employment Status?
      • 58% already in workforce
      • 42% not in workforce
      • (Unlike the fear which the conservative forces in the country have, most of them are already in labor force and working. EAD through the DACA will move these work forces upward in occupations, but the impact on the unemployment may be less than what those people have feared.)
    • Where Are They? As one can easily speculate, majority of them are located in the ten (10) largest states in the West Coast, East Coast, and the South, plus Illinois in the Midwest. However, there are a quite of number of them located in all other states. Readers may be surprised to see the numbers in other states where they live.
  • The foregoing gives just an eyeview of the picture and readers are encouraged to read the whole report. It is not a large volume report

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Increased Number of Inquiries on Consular Processing of Green Card Applications

  • In some countries, consular processing of immigrant visa takes shorter time than the USCIS EB-485 processing. Also there appears to be their fear of potential delays in processing of pending EB-485 applications as affected by the ongoing massitve DACA filings by the DREAMers that require biometric and security clearance, not to mention processing of massive number of DACA applications themselves. It also appears upcoming new allocation of employment-based immigrant visa quota for FY 2013, which they fear will be exhausted and regressed again sooner or later. Fourth factor appears to be speculation of changes in the employment-based immigration laws. All of the foregoing factors combined triggered their interest in filing immigrant visa application through the American consulates in their home countries.
  • We have just reported the number of preadjudicated EB-485 applications, which will remain more or less untouched at least until October 1, 2012. Readers must have noticed that the numbers are fairly large. Of course, no one knows how many of them represent EB-2 as opposed to EB-3, how many of them have what earlier priority dates, and how many of them involve what nationalities. Since some of these questions can be answered from the USCIS Employment-Based Inventory, they are anxious to see release of the updated Inventory by the USCIS. The latest update was released on May 3, 2012. No one knows exactly when the next update of Inventory will be released, but it is our speculation that it should not take too long to see the inventory update. It is about the time whey the USCIS may release it. Release of the inventory update may give some answers to the third factor, assuming that October Visa Bulletin could look like the picture before EB-2 for ROW regressed and EB-2 for India and China turned "unavailable" in the visa bulletins. As for all other factors, they remain anybody's guess and speculation and no one has any answers. Under the circumstances, readers are advised to take time and exercise precaution before they jump and seek the consular immigrant visa processing. Once the approved I-140 petition file is transferred to the National Visa Center, it will take time for the USCIS to recoup the file from the NVC, and depending on the changed circumstances in the USCIS, they may find they acted too quickly and will have to face additional delays which they would not have experienced, had they acted precautiously. Converting pending EB-485 proceeding to the immigrant visa consular proceeding will also take away all the ancillary benefits that come with the pending I-485 application, including but not limited to EAD, transfer of the pending EB-485 applications to other newly approved I-140 petitions, just to name a few. 

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Terms of "Unlawful Status" and "Unlawful Presence" and "Illegal Alien" and DACA DREAMer Driver License

  • Under the circumstances of lack of guidance from immigration law community, there has been developing a growing confusion among state governments, particularly Republican governors, as to the legal definition of "Deferred Action" and the distinction between unlawful status and unlawful presence or stay of an alien under the federal immigration law. The Arizona governor has issued an executive order to the effect that state driver license will not be issued to DACA DREAMers for the "alleged" reasons that the state driver licence law does not permit issuance of driver license to an alien who is in "unlawful status" or "unlawful presence." Apparently to follow the suite of the Arizona Governor action, on August 17, 2012, the Governor of Nebraska issued his policy statement that since DACA DREAMers will remain "illegal aliens," the State of Nebraska will not issue driver liecense to DACA DREAMers. On August 16, 2012, the Governor of Texas also released a policy statement for the State of Texas that the federal law does not permit government benefits (including driver license) to most "unlawfully present" aliens, and pursuant to the federal law and texas law, the State of Texas will handle the state government benefit issues per the Texas statute and federal law. This reporter earlier expressed his concerns with potential domino effect of the Arizona Governor's action on other states (particularly Republican).
  • Federal immigration law is considered as complicated as the IRS tax codes. This reporter will try to briefly summarize and clarify these issues. Firstly, what is "illegal alien?" The term "illegal alien" is not a legal term but layman term probably covering aliens in unlawful status or unlawful presence in the country. Secondly, the term unlawful "status" means under the federal immigrant law that the period of admission to stay in the United States by the DHS authorities has expired or violated. Does it mean that all the aliens who's admitted period of stay expired are unlawful in the United State under the federal law? Noooops! Because under the federal immigration law, the DHS secretary has an authority to grant a permission of lawful stay or presence for certain expired nonimmigrants "pending" certain "legal" proceedings. In other words, their stay in the United Status will be conditioned upon "pending legal proceeding." This permission is called "lawful presence." Most of I-485 applicants whose nonimmigrant status expired are keep staying and working in the country legally and as soon as I-485 is denied, their permit to stay lawfully will also end and they will be neither in lawful stay nor lawful presence in the United States from that point on. There are innumerable illustrations for aliens in lawful presence pending certain legal proceedings. Under the employment-based nonimmigrant proceedings, for instance H-1B, the alien beneficiaries are allowed to stay, after their current I-94 expires, "pending" extension or change of status petitions. Strictly speaking, they are not in lawful status but they are in lawful presence under the immigration law. There are many and many different immigration proceedings that have produced aliens in lawful presence pending underlying "legal" proceedings.
  • Deferred Action is an aged-old discretionary relief and a valid legal proceeding. Once the Deferred Action is granted, the aliens remain in the country in a lawful presence until it is lifted or not extended. Indeed, the law is not intended to give them any legal right other than stay and work considering extreme humanitarian concerns involved for those with no adverse record. Deferred Action is not any different from any aliens who are allowed to keep staying and work pending legal proceedings. Until now, states have been issuing state's driver licenses to those in lawful presence under the federal statute of REAL ID Act. DACA approved DREAMers with EAD will stay in lawful presence under the immigration law and should not be denied of a driver license in the states.

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USCIS Receipts and Approvals for All Form Types

This update covers the data for all types of cases for FY 2012 (10/01/2011 - 06/30/2012)

Please see this link: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/Immigration%20Forms%20Data/All%20Form%20Types/all-form-types-performance-data_fy2012_qtr3.pdf

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USCIS Reminds Immigration Benefits Available for Individuals Affected by Hurricane Isaac

  • Eligible individuals may apply for temporary relief measures, including:
    • A change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
    • Extension or re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
    • Advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole applications;
    • Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
    • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) whose priority dates are current;
    • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications; and
    • Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when LPRs are stranded in places that do not have a local USCIS office.
  • Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program may visit a USCIS local office for assistance. Individuals affected by the hurricane who are at a U.S. airport may contact the nearest U.S. Customs and Border Protection office for assistance. For more information on USCIS humanitarian programs, visit www.uscis.gov or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. Hearing-impaired persons can call 1-800-767-1833.

More Details: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=ff3636959b379310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=e7801c2c9be44210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD 

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Immigration in DNC 2012 Platform

  • DNS platform to be official announced in the DNC in Charlotte, North Carolina reportedly includes the following immigration platform:
"Democrats are strongly committed to enacting comprehensive immigration reform." Immigration overhaul would include bringing "undocumented immigrants out of the shadows," requiring illegal immigrants "to get right with the law, learn English and pay taxes" to get on a path toward citizenship. It also calls for a visa system that meets the country's "economic needs, keeps families together and enforces the law." It acknowledges that administrative fixes are not permanent. "Only Congress can provide a permanent, comprehensive solution."
  • Report indicates that the Republican platform opposes "any form of amnesty" for those who intentionally violate the immigration laws, demands a halt to Justice Department lawsuits against states that have enacted tough immigration measures, would deny federal funding to universities that provide lower in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants and advocates making English the official national language.

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The U.S. Embassy in Delhi Announces a New Visa Processing System in India Effective 09/26/2012

The American Embassy in New Delhi, India has announced that the visa posts throughout India will implement a new visa processing system effective 09/26/2012 as follows:

  • "The United States Embassy in India today announced it is implementing a new visa processing system throughout India that will further standardize procedures and will simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website at www.ustraveldocs.com/in. Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Julia Stanley, announced at a press conference here today that beginning September 26, 2012 U.S. visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones. They can also pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches.
  • For the first time, applicants will be able to schedule their appointments online or by phone. The new system will also allow companies and travel agents to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel, and it accommodates the scheduling of group and emergency appointments.
  • Visa applicants will be able to have their questions answered via telephone, email, or online chat. Call center agents in Noida and Hyderabad will answer questions in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu. Call centers will be open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday. The numbers are (91-120) 660-2222 or (91-22) 6720-9400 in India or 1-310-616-5424 in the United States. Applicants can email in English or Hindi at support-india@ustraveldocs.com, or they can chat with us directly from our website (www.ustraveldocs.com/in) during call center hours.
  • One important change is that under the new system, applicants will have to make two appointments. Prior to their visa interviews, applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and a photo. Located apart from the Embassy and Consulates in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, the OFCs will reduce congestion at U.S. consular facilities and speed applicant processing. Most applicants will need to visit an OFC only once."

Complete details: http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/pr090512.html 

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DHS September 2012 Annual Report of Immigration Enforcement During FY 2011

Key statistics from the report:

  • CBP found 212,000 foreign nationals inadmissible for entry into the United States. 
  • DHS made 642,000 apprehensions of foreign nationals; 76 percent were natives of Mexico.
  • ICE detained approximately 429,000 foreign nationals, an all-time high.
  • DHS returned 324,000 foreign nationals to their home countries without a removal order.
  • DHS removed 392,000 foreign nationals from the United States. The leading countries of origin of those removed were Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
  • Reinstatements of final orders accounted for 130,000, or 33 percent, of all removals.
  • Expedited removals accounted for 123,000, or 31 percent, of all removals.
  • ICE removed 188,000 known criminal aliens from the United States, an all-time high.

Source: http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/immigration-statistics/enforcement_ar_2011.pdf
 

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October 2012 Visa Bulletin


Family Based

Family-Sponsored All Charge-ability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA- mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 08OCT05 08OCT05 08OCT05 15JUN93 01APR96
F2A 01JUN10 01JUN10 01JUN10 15MAY10  01JUN10
F2B 15SEP04 15SEP04 15SEP04 01OCT92 22JAN02
F3 22MAY02 22MAY02 22MAY02 08FEB93 22JUL92
F4 15MAR01 15FEB01 15MAR01 22JUN96 08FEB89


Employment Based

Employment- Based All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA- mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd 01JAN12 15JUL07 01SEP04 01JAN12 01JAN12
3rd 22OCT06 08FEB06 15OCT02 22OCT06 01AUG06
Other Workers 22OCT06 22JUN03 15OCT02 22OCT06 01AUG06
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers U U U U U
5th
Targeted
Employment
Areas/
Regional Centers
C C C C C
5th Pilot Programs U U U U U


Source: http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5770.html


Background:

Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000.  The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000.  Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620.  The dependent area limit is set at 2%, or 7,320.

On the chart above, 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.)

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First:  (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. 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, plus any unused first preference numbers:
A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;
B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents:  23% of the overall second preference limitation. 

Third:  (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences. 

Fourth:  (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. 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". 

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 Pub. L. 102-395.

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Hooray, House Passed S. 3245 by 412:3 Absolute Majority!

Once the President signs this bill, the October Visa Bulletin relating to these immigration programs will be automatically revised to "current" such that the agencies including USCIS, Department of State (visa posts), HHS, and States can continuously process, without any interruptions, immigration petitions and applications for the petitioners and beneficiaries.

S.3245 is bill to extend by 3 years the authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program, the E-Verify Program, the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program, and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy

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PERM Processing Times Update as of 09/04/2012

    • Analyst Review (Clean Case): 06/2012 (Priority Date)
    • Audit Cases: 01/2012 (Priority Date)
    • Reconsideration Request Cases: 10/01/2011 (Priority Date)
    • Government Error Reconsideration Cases: Current

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DACA Update

USCIS Posted update to FAQ for DACA on Sept 14:

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=3a4dbc4b04499310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=3a4dbc4b04499310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD


USCIS also posted updated processing statistics for DACA:

    • Total Received: 82,361
    • Biometrics Scheduled Cases: 63,717
    • Ready for Review: 1,660
    • Completed: 29

Link: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/Immigration%20Forms%20Data/All%20Form%20Types/DACA/DAStats-Sep.pdf


DACA: Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process 

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House Republicans to Push STEM Jobs Act of 2012 Next Friday

  • Rep. Lamar Smith is sponsoring this bill and the House floor is scheduled to take up this bill on suspension of rules calendar for voice vote on 09/21/2012, assumedly the last day of the Congressional session before the Congress will go into recess for the national election.
  • Report indicates that the bill will propose elimination of diversity visa, replaced by STEM immigration program granting 55,000 STEM advance degree holders green cards. This bill sounds very similar to Rep. Isaa's bill which is already pending in the House. According to the report, the bill is likely to include the following proposals:
    • An individual must have earned a doctorate or a master's degree from a U.S. university in order to be eligible for the visa. Those who took courses online also qualify, but they must be physically present in the U.S.
    • Employers must petition for the visas on behalf of job candidates. A U.S. employer that wants to hire a foreign national and secure a green card for that individual must go through a labor certification process, similar to what is now used in employment-based green cards, to show that there are no qualified U.S. citizens who are available for the job.
    • The visa candidate must agree to work for at least five years for the petitioning employer, or in a STEM field.
    • The visas will be limited to foreign nationals who earned degrees at Ph.D.-granting universities with high levels of research activity.
    • First preference goes to people who hold doctorates. Any unused visas are then made available to people with master's degrees.
  • One information which is missing is whether the 55,000 STEM visas will be subject to per country limitation under the current statute. Considering the fact that there will be a short Lame Duck session after the election and before this 112th Congress sunsets at the end of the year, the chance of this bill is anybody's guess. We will monitor development of this bill next week.

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House Democrats Introduced 09/14/2012 Another STEM Immigration Bill of 2012

  • Yesterday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California introduced H.R. 6412 "Attracting the Best and Brightest Act of 2012" in the House to grant immigration status to STEM major foreign brains. Accordingly, two STEM bills of two different parties will more or less contest each other in the House. What does it mean? The chance for Rep. Smith's STEM bill to pass the House by voice vote in suspension of rule on next Friday may not work well as Democrats may request roll call votes that require two thirds of yeas to pass. By the way, one of the co-sponsors of the Smith bill is the House majority leader, explaining how the Smith bill would be so quickly placed on the House floor next Friday under the suspension of rules calendar. Smith bill has yet to be introduced in the House. Why all of sudden STEM immigration legislation turns into the spotlight? Remember that over 150 universities petitioned a few days back and there have been growing pressure from the high tech businesses. Remember also that the national election is less than two months away! 
  • For the unofficial full text and summary of H.R. 6412, please click here.

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