Friday, March 15, 2013

Immigration Update This Week (3/10 - 3/15)

CIR Bill: It looks like the Gang of 8 would not be able to complete the bill writing by end of March. The Senator will leave Washington for Easter break and return back on April 2 till April 13. They will leave again on break and return back on Apr 30. Hopefully the CIR bill will be written and agreed by "Gang of 8" by then.

Impact Of Sequester cuts: Parts of the DHS that are affected by the sequestion are immigration law enforcement directorates, according to the DHS Secretary's report to the Congress. USCIS will not be affected because the funds for USCIS operation are coming from immigration filing fees. The State Department that includes visa posts is reportedly not hit by any massive furloughs until June 2013 and visa processing may be minimally affected by the sequestion, at least for now.

The story is different for the U.S. Department of Labor. The acting Secretary of U.S. Department of Labor released a news that 4,700 employees are hit by furloughs. There is no information available about at this time as to the number of employees of the Office of Foreign Labor Certification that are or will be hit by furlough. Since the operation of the OFLC  rely on fee revenue, it is likely that the OFLC will be affected by this sequestration.

April 2013 Visa Bulletin: Department of State (DOS) released the April 2013 Visa Bulletin based on latest demand data from USCIS.

Transfer of some DACA workload: USCIS issued an alert that on March 8, 2013, USCIS transferred some casework from the California Service Center to the Texas Service Center to balance overall workload with processing capacity at the centers. The affected casework includes the following forms:
  • I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  • I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (when filed concurrently with the I-821D)
  • I-765 Worksheet (PDF) (when filed concurrently with the I-821D)
Effect on Customers: As a result of these changes, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) requestors may receive a letter from USCIS letting them know their request for DACA is now pending at the Texas Service Center instead of the California Service Center. Customers do not need to take any action.

Updated Handbook for I-9 form: USCIS has updated the Handbook for Employers, Guidance for Completing the Form I-9 (M-274), to include information about the revised Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13) N. The name of the Handbook has also changed slightly. The word “Guidance” has replaced “Instructions.” Helpful new images have been added to illustrate how employees and employers can complete Section 1-3 of the new form. Please also see page 23 for updated guidance on recording changes of name and other identity guidance. Visit the I-9 Central website for updates and guidance about the new Form I-9. 

EAD for H4 Visa Holders: OMB has updated the status to "Review Extended". This could probably be due to sequester cuts. If you don't know, sequester cuts means that if Congress failed to agree on specific cuts by Feb 28, then ALL agencies of the federal government would be affected by cuts (instead of only few of them). USCIS would not be affected because their annual revenue comes from immigration fees. With less budget (and hence less staff), hopefully OMB can get to it by next month.

House Began Fight Against Obama Administrative Fix of Immigration Programs:  There were a few legislative bills which were introduced in the House to fight against the Obama Administration's use of regulations and other forms of action to fix immigration system administratively and without legislation using his authority and power of Executive under the Constitution of the United States. 

This is a form of fight to enhance the power of Legislative Branch of the federal government over the Executive Branch using enhanced power and authority to oversight the Executive Branch activities. The House Judiciary Committee Regulatory Subcommittee is quickly taking up this issue scheduling hearings and debates. 

However, under the party-divided Congress between the Republican House and the Democrat Senate, the ongoing action more or less represents the Republicans' statement to the nation to voice its frustration, and chances for these bills to pass the Congress are very slim.

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