USCIS offers immigration relief measures for people affected by natural disasters, such as the severe earthquakes that recently occurred in Ecuador, Japan and Burma. If you are seeking relief because of the natural disaster, you must still file any USCIS forms regularly required for the benefit or relief you are requesting. When filing the appropriate form(s) for your specific request, please explain how the natural disaster created a need for the requested relief. For more information, visit uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations.
Does the president have the power to select which laws to enforce and which ones to ignore? The SCOTUS decision on this matter will have significant, long-lasting impact on the United States, and it all begins today. - Transcript
"The impassioned election-year debate over President Obama’s immigration executive actions lands Monday before a short-handed Supreme Court, where justices will consider a fundamental question: how much power does the president truly have?
At issue Monday is whether as many as 5 million illegal immigrants can be spared deportation -- including those who entered the U.S. as children, and the parents of citizens or legal residents. The programs -- known as Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens and Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) -- effectively went around the Republican-led Congress" - Fox
USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 9, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.
The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.
In the May 2016 Visa Bulletin, the Department of State issued the following statement:
The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for May 2016. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For historical data, predictions and more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.
|Chargeability||Preference||Cut-off Date (Y-M-D)||Movement (Days)|
Special Note on E4 and SR categories from the Department of State:
"There is currently extremely high demand in the E4 and SR categories for applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This demand is primarily for Juvenile Court Dependent cases filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for adjustment of status. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, this requires implementing E4 and SR Application Final Action Dates for these countries, which will allow the Department to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY-2016 annual limits. Any forward movement during the remainder of FY-2016 is unlikely although no specific prediction is possible.
A determination as to whether these countries will remain subject to E4 and SR final application dates under the FY-2017 annual numerical limitation will be made in early September. Future visa availability will depend on a combination of demand for numbers being reported each month, and the extent to which otherwise unused numbers become available.
It is extremely likely that the India and Mexico Employment Fourth Preference categories will also become oversubscribed at some point during the summer months."
"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption." - USCIS
CBP Los Angeles is launching a pilot program to accept I-94 correction requests via email. From April 1, 2016 to Sept 30, 2016, you may send your I-94 correction request by email at: I94LAX@CBP.DHS.GOV. Attach a copy of your passport bio-page, visa, SEVIS form, I-797 (Work Visas), I-129S (L-1), and/or Advanced Parole Document. - CBP
CBP has published an updated list of Deferred Inspection Sites. These sites provide assistance to people who were scheduled for a deferred inspection at the time of entry (due to missing documentation, for example), and they can also correct errors on I-94.
"Scammers pretend to be a government official and call immigrants saying there is a problem with their immigration record. Sometimes they know personal information about the immigrant. They ask for personal and sensitive details, and demand immediate payment to fix the problem. They get angry and threaten people with deportation if payment is not made immediately with electronic money transfers. Sometimes, scammers use special software to make it look like our 800 number is calling. Other times they leave a message to call a number that sounds exactly like our 800 number.
Remember, USCIS officials rarely call customers on the phone, and WE WILL NEVER ASK FOR PAYMENT OVER THE PHONE. If we need payment, we will send a letter on official stationery requesting payment. If you receive a call like this, hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov." - USCIS1/2016
The STEM Designated Degree Program list is a complete list of fields of study that DHS considers to be science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields of study for purposes of the 24-month STEM optional practical training extension described at 8 CFR 214.2(f). Under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(2), a STEM field of study is a field of study “included in the Department of Education’s Classification of Instructional Programs taxonomy within the two-digit series containing engineering, biological sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences, or a related field. In general, related fields will include fields involving research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences).” - ICE
"USCIS would like to remind individuals applying for a change of status to H-4 that if you travel abroad before we approve your Form I-539, Change of Status (COS) application, we will consider your application to be abandoned. This means we will deny your COS application. If you filed your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and travel abroad before your COS is approved, it will be considered abandoned, along with your I-539 application. This will result in a denial of your Form I-765 even if you are re-admitted as an H-4 nonimmigrant. If re-admitted as an H-4 nonimmigrant, you would need to file a new Form I-765, with fee, in order to apply for employment authorization." - USCIS
"It did not take long. Almost as soon as the bombs went off in Brussels on Tuesday morning, the new act of terrorism in the heart of Europe was employed in the bitter debate about the influx of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa.
Even before the identities and nationalities of the attackers were known, there was an immediate association in popular discourse between the attacks on the airport and subway station in Brussels and the migrant crisis. Right-wing politicians and average citizens alike raised concerns that groups like the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the attacks, are slipping radicalized recruits, including European jihadists, through the vast migrant stream and into an unprepared Europe." - NYT
It is worth noting that USCIS issues far more family-based green cards than employment-based (about 3X). Humanitarian-based I-485 approvals are also higher than EB petitions including entrepreneur and investor visas.
|Number of I-485 Applications October 1 - December 31, 2015|
|Number of I-526 Immigrant Petitions by Alien Entrepreneurs 2008-2016|
|2016 Q1 (Oct - Dec)||6,277||1,257||372||21,988|
The European Union and Turkey reached a deal on Friday to return new asylum seekers who arrive in Greece from Turkey, a significant step in the bloc’s effort to deal with the migrant crisis that has roiled the Continent. The effectiveness of the plan, which will begin on Sunday, was also unclear given that there are many alternative routes into Europe.
The deal calls for Turkey to receive about $6.6 billion in aid to help organizations look after the nearly three million migrants already in Turkey, promises of visa-free travel for its citizens in most of Europe, and the eventual resumption of negotiations with Turkey on membership in the European Union. The European Union also will resettle one Syrian from a camp in Turkey in exchange for each Syrian who used an irregular route to reach Greece. - NYT
On April 1, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 cap. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming. The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2017 is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.
USCIS expects to receive more than 65,000 petitions during the first five business days of this year’s program. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met. - USCIS
Today SEVP launched a STEM OPT Hub on DHS’ Study in the States. The Hub will include resources for students, designated school officials, and employers. SEVP monitors approximately one million international students pursuing academic or vocational studies (F and M visa holders) in the United States and their dependents. It also certifies schools and programs that enroll these students. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) monitors exchange visitors (J visa holders) and their dependents, and oversees exchange visitor programs.
"All three are among the many Chinese who came to the U.S. to study business, find work and make salaries beyond reach at home and are now headed in the opposite direction. As U.S. firms have cut bonuses and positions, and China’s sector explodes in sophistication and pay, some are migrating back. And while this may seem like an odd moment to repatriate, given the mounting financial jitters back home, two forces are driving the move: the fact that many feel they’re hitting a bamboo ceiling in the U.S. and the belief that Chinese growth, while slowing, is shifting into areas that will benefit bankers." - Bloomberg
The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for April 2016. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For historical data, predictions and more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.
|Chargeability||Preference||Cut-off Date (Y-M-D)||Movement (Days)|
"Those with questions related to an approved I-526 petition can now correspond with the National Visa Center (NVC) using a dedicated e-mail address: NVCeb5@state.gov. The newly created EB-5 Investor Assistance Desk is part of NVC's continuing efforts to improve customer service.
Upon receipt of an approved petition from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, NVC's Investor Assistant Desk will oversee the addition of potential derivative applicants and creation of fee bills. Customers will e-mail their derivative's relationship documents to NVCeb5@state.gov, which can also be used for inquiries on derivatives, the Child Status Protection Act, and general case status.
The Investor Assistance Desk does not change NVC's process for documentarily qualifying an immigrant visa case and scheduling an interview overseas. All visa applicants, including those in the EB-5 category, should submit their financial, civil, and supporting documents to NVC in one package following the instructions available at: nvc.state.gov/submit. The goal of NVC's Investor Assistance Desk is to provide more transparent and effective customer service through a team specially trained in the I-526 petition." - National Visa Center (NVC)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. institutions of higher education. Specifically, the final rule allows such F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months (STEM OPT extension). This 24-month extension effectively replaces the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to certain STEM students. The rule also improves and increases oversight over STEM OPT extensions by, among other things, requiring the implementation of formal training plans by employers, adding wage and other protections for STEM OPT students and U.S. workers, and allowing extensions only to students with degrees from accredited schools. As with the prior 17-month STEM OPT extension, the rule authorizes STEM OPT extensions only for students employed by employers who participate in E-Verify. The rule also includes the “Cap-Gap” relief first introduced in a 2008 DHS regulation for any F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and request for change of status.
DATES: This rule is effective May 10, 2016, except the addition of 8 CFR 214.16, which is effective from May 10, 2016, through May 10, 2019. - DHS
Sixty-one percent of Americans agree that "continued immigration into the country jeopardizes the United States," according to a new poll commissioned by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney that revealed pessimism across a wide range of issues. The degree of concern is remarkable considering that the question was about all immigration, including the legal kind. Even Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said he supports legal immigration into the U.S. - Bloomberg
EVUS is the online system used by nationals of China holding a 10-year B1/B2, B1 or B2 (visitor) visa periodically to update basic biographic information to facilitate their travel to the United States. In addition to a valid visa, such travelers will be required to complete an EVUS enrollment to be admitted into the United States. Beginning in November 2016, Chinese travelers will need to go online and update their information in order to comply with EVUS requirements. As the system is developed and the launch date gets closer, the U.S. Government will ensure that information about the EVUS process is readily available. - CBP
Last hurdle of OPT Extension has been cleared and DHS is expected to publish the final rule shortly.
|RIN: 1653-AA72||Received Date: 02/05/2016|
|Title: Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students with STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students|
|Agency/Subagency: DHS / USICE||Stage: Final Rule|
|Concluded Action: Consistent with Change||Concluded Date: 03/02/2016|
As Europe’s migrant crisis spiraled toward yet another humanitarian catastrophe, a European Union leader issued a stark warning Thursday to millions in search of economic opportunity: Stay away. "Do not come to Europe," said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, which represents the bloc’s 28 leaders. "Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing. Greece or any other European country will no longer be a transit country." - NYT
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has created the Known Employer pilot to assess a way to streamline the process for employers seeking to hire certain workers through employment-based visa categories. By modifying the process by which USCIS reviews an employer’s eligibility to sponsor individuals under certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa classifications, the Known Employer pilot is expected to reduce paperwork, costs and delays in processing these benefit requests. - USCIS
"A flight student from Egypt is facing deportation from the United States after being investigated by federal agents for posting on his Facebook page that he was willing to serve a life sentence for killing Donald Trump and that the world would thank him. While U.S. prosecutors have not charged 23-year-old Emadeldin Elsayed with a crime, immigration authorities arrested him last month at the Los Angeles-area flight school he attended and now are trying to deport him, attorney Hani Bushra said Wednesday." - ABC
It was a joke that involved a stereotype about Asians being good at math (the three children were introduced as PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants with Asian- and Jewish-sounding names), but ended with Rock saying onstage, "If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids." - NBC
"New York education officials are defending a hotly debated plan to allow illegal immigrants to be certified as public school teachers. Saying the district doesn’t want to “close the door on their dreams,” state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia explained those eligible for the teaching certification came to America as children." - Fox News
Effective February 25, 2016, new guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual provides information on the general policies and procedures for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence as well as adjustment under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Part A: Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures
Part B: 245(a) Adjustment
USCIS today published the pending I-485 inventory with data as of January 12, 2016. We have now updated the green card tracker with the latest information. The I-485 tracker includes data from USCIS' pending I-485 inventory as well as DOS' pending consular processing cases.
"Several thousand protesters, most of them Chinese Americans, packed a park in downtown Brooklyn Saturday afternoon to show support for Peter Liang, a former New York Police Department (NYPD) officer who was convicted last week of second-degree manslaughter and official misconduct in the shooting death of an unarmed man in a Brooklyn housing project.
While demonstrators expressed sympathy for Gurley's family, they also criticized the jury's verdict, saying the shooting was unintentional and that Liang, 28, wasn't acting recklessly when his gun went off while patrolling a pitch-dark stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses in Brooklyn." - NBC
"Stepping to the concrete edge of the Rio Grande, Pope Francis on Wednesday went to a militarized divide of the United States-Mexican border and prayed for compassion toward immigrants. He never set foot in the United States, but he did step directly, and deliberately, into the acrimonious American debate over immigration." - NY Times
"Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. "We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law." - NBC
Congress created the EB-5 visa program in 1990 as a tool to stimulate the U.S. economy by encouraging foreign capital investments and job creation. The EB-5 program makes imm"Based on these numbers, it is estimated that at least $8.7 billion has been invested into the U.S. economy through the EB-5 program since October 1, 2012. In terms of job creation, based on the number of approvals of Form I-829 to remove conditions on permanent residence since October 1, 2012, it is estimated that an aggregate total of an estimated 35,140 jobs have been created for U.S. workers through foreign investment via the EB-5 program. While these are rough estimates, USCIS is working to refine data systems to better collect program performance data and has entered into an agreement with the Department of Commerce to conduct a valuation study of the EB-5 program which we expect to receive in the second quarter of FY2016." - USCIS
The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for March 2016. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For historical data, predictions and more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.
|Chargeability||Preference||Cut-off Date (Y-M-D)||Movement (Days)|
The Department of State also updated their Visa Bulletin Predictions for the next few months.
"Effective December 18, 2015, H-2B workers identified as “returning workers” are exempted from the fiscal year (FY) 2016 annual H-2B cap of 66,000 visas...A returning worker is defined as an H-2B worker who was previously counted against the annual H-2B cap of 66,000 visas during FYs 2013, 2014, or 2015. - USCIS
"In a shocking reversal of policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are being told to release illegal immigrants and no longer order them to appear at deportation hearings, essentially a license to stay in the United States, a key agent testified Thursday.
What's more, the stand down order includes a requirement that the whereabouts of illegals released are not to be tracked. 'We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether,' suggested agent Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council." - Washington Examiner
"One of Marissa Mayer’s signature policies as chief executive of Yahoo has been the quarterly performance review, in which every employee at the company is ranked on a scale of 1 to 5. The ratings have been used to fire hundreds of employees since Ms. Mayer joined the company in mid-2012.
In a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Gregory Anderson, an editor who oversaw Yahoo’s autos, homes, shopping, small business and travel sites in Sunnyvale, Calif., until he was fired in November 2014, alleges that the company’s senior managers routinely manipulated the rating system to fire hundreds of people without just cause to achieve the company’s financial goals." - NY Times
All employers are required to complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification to verify their new hires' identity and employment eligibility. The Department of Homeland Security Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) partnered and published guidance for employers on internal Form I-9 audits in compliance with the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). Download the entire Guidance for Employers Conducting Internal Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 Audits to help ensure internal audits are conducted properly and do not discriminate against employees.
Do not fall victim to scammers who call and say they are with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)! There has been an increase in aggressive phone scams where people call and threaten you with police arrest or deportation if you don’t pay them. Even if you do owe taxes…
If you get a call like this, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484 or visiting www.tigta.gov. Also, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
"The United States today began implementing changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) welcomes more than a million passengers arriving to the United States every day and is committed to facilitating legitimate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security and border protection. Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at our embassies or consulates." - Department of State
"Setting the stage for a potential election-year blockbuster decision, the US Supreme Court has agreed to decide a Texas case challenging President Obama’s executive action to shield from deportation more than 4 million undocumented immigrants. The president announced the controversial policy in November 2014. But before it could go into effect, Texas and 25 other states filed a lawsuit seeking to block the program." - CSMonitor
"The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday deferred a decision about whether to hear the Justice Department's challenge to a federal appellate ruling blocking implementation of President Barack Obama's executive orders to shield some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Though the immigration matter does not appear on Friday's list of cases to be heard during the current term, the nine justices still have time to add it to the docket." - Fox News
"The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113), signed into law by President Obama on December 18, 2015, increases fees for certain H-1B and L-1 petitioners. These petitioners must submit an additional fee of $4,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $4,500 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions postmarked on or after December 18, 2015.
The additional fees apply to petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the United States, with more than 50 percent of those employees in H-1B or L (including L-1A and L-1B) nonimmigrant status....This fee is in addition to the base processing fee, Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee, American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 fee (when required), as well as the premium processing fee, if applicable." - USCIS
The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for February 2016. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For historical data, predictions and more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.
|Chargeability||Preference||Cut-off Date (Y-M-D)||Movement (Days)|
This recent influx is compounding President Obama’s troubles with immigration in his final year in office, as his efforts to achieve broad protections for immigrants already living in the country illegally have stalled in the federal courts and his fallback actions to try to quell a new border surge have alienated many political allies.
The new rush of Central American families began in late July, and on several recent days reached the heights of the 2014 influx. By Dec. 1, more than 17,000 migrants in families were caught along the border, more than double the number in the same period in 2014. - Bloomberg
"Among the several dozen Pakistani and Afghan men who have entered the U.S. illegally, coming into San Diego from Tijuana, two were found to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a letter sent by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter to the Department of Homeland Security.
Shigg said he believes that federal officials should be talking openly about this new development and committing more resources to keeping people from such countries in custody until they can be completely vetted." - San Diego Reader
The Obama administration this weekend began detaining Central Americans who have evaded deportation orders, launching a crackdown on people illegally in the country amid an increase in migrants trying to cross the southwest border.
Just before Christmas, government officials confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security was planning a clampdown on Central American migrants in January that would include women and children. The operation began in Georgia and Texas, immigration attorneys and advocates said Sunday. - WSJ
The migrant crisis has divided the European Union, raised new security concerns in a region scarred by terrorism, recast an old debate about how to integrate large, often disaffected Muslim populations, and begun to reshape national politics across the bloc. While Europe remains split about how to tackle the challenge, all countries agree that the first priority this year will be to reduce the inflow to more manageable levels. - WSJ
|2015:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|
|2014:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|
|2013:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|
|2012:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|
|2011:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|
|2010:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|
|2009:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|
|2008:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|
|2007:||January - February||March - April||May - June||July - August||September - October||November - December|