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Immigration News - January and February of 2011

02/26/2011: I-140 Approval and Denial Rate

USCIS published partial data on I-140 approval rate. However, there are apparently typos in the report. See our blog post for more details.

02/24/2011: DOS Final Rule: Exchange Visitor Program - Fees and Charge

The Department [of State] received three comments and is now promulgating a final rule with no changes from the proposed rule. Thus, the fee charged to foreign nationals for a request for individual program services, such as change of program category, program extensions and reinstatements, will decrease to $233.00. The fee charged to U.S. corporate entities for requests for program designation, redesignation and amendments to program designation will increase to $2,700.00 in order to recoup the full cost of such services. - DOS

02/24/2011: Arizona Lawmakers Push New Round of Immigration Restrictions

Arizona lawmakers are proposing a sweeping package of immigration restrictions that might make the controversial measures the state approved last year, which the Obama administration went to court to block, look mild.

Illegal immigrants would be barred from driving in the state, enrolling in school or receiving most public benefits. Their children would receive special birth certificates that would make clear that the state does not consider them Arizona citizens. - NYT

02/22/2011: USCIS Press Conference on Strategic Goals & Initiatives for 2011

USCIS Director Mayorkas discusses the agency's priorities and goals this year, and takes questions from reporters and other stakeholders. - Transcript

02/18/2011: FAQ Round 1 for H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification has published the first round of frequently asked questions regarding H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 programs. - DOL

02/18/2011: Part 6 of Form I-129 Required Again

In November 2010, USCIS published a revised Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, which became effective on Dec. 23, 2010. Due to a number of inquiries regarding Part 6 of the Form I-129, "Certification Regarding the Release of Controlled Technology or Technical Data to Foreign Persons in the United States", USCIS advised petitioners that they would not be required to complete this section until Feb. 20, 2011. Petitions postmarked on or after Feb. 20, 2011, must complete Part 6 of the Form I-129. - USCIS Alert

02/16/2011: E-Verify Self Check System of Records

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services E-Verify Self Check is voluntary and available to any individual who wants to check his own work authorization status prior to employment and facilitate correction of potential errors in federal databases that provide inputs into the E-Verify process. When an individual uses E-Verify Self Check, he will be notified either that 1. his information matched the information contained in federal databases and he would be deemed work-authorized, or 2. his information was not matched to information contained in federal databases which would be considered a ''mismatch.'' If the information was a mismatch, he will be given instructions on where and how to correct his record(s). This newly established system will be included in the Department of Homeland Security's inventory of record systems. This new system will be effective March 18, 2011. - Federal Register

02/14/2011: USCIS Memo on Combined EAD and AP Document

This Policy Memorandum (PM) applies to every USCIS officer who, on or after December 21, 2010, adjudicates an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) and an application for advance parole (filed on an Application for Travel Document, Form I-131, option 2d) submitted concurrently with or after the filing of an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485). This PM rescinds and supersedes any previously published policy guidance issued by USCIS and the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) concerning the issuance of employment authorization and advance parole documents, to the extent that such previously published guidance conflicts with the guidance in this PM. - Interim Memo

02/11/2011: Finally! EAD and AP Combo Card is Here

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it is now issuing employment and travel authorization on a single card for certain applicants filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485. This new card represents a significant improvement from the current practice of issuing paper Advance Parole documents. - USCIS Announcement, Q&A

02/11/2011: March 2011 Visa Bulletin

EB2-India once again remains unchanged at May 8, 2006. All EB3 categories moved forward by a few weeks to a few months.

The biggest setback is for family-based 2A categories, retrogressing by one year amid heavy demand for visa numbers.

02/09/2011: Coordinating Case Adjudication Involving Individuals in Removal Proceeding

This policy memorandum provides guidance for coordination with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the adjudication of applications and petitions involving individuals in removal proceedings before the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). This memorandum concerns only applications and petitions over which USCIS has jurisdiction. - USCIS Interim Memo

02/09/2011: Annotated B-1 Visa for Foreign Maritime Workers

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) today announced the creation of an annotated version of the B-1 visa-issued to foreign citizens visiting the United States for business purposes-that will make foreign maritime workers eligible to apply for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). The TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric identification card that maritime workers must obtain in order to gain unrestricted access to secure areas of maritime facilities. - DHS

02/09/2011: Delayed I-130 Petitions at Texas Service Center

In November 2010, USCIS transferred approximately 36,000 Immediate Relative petitions from our California Service Center to our Texas Service Center. We anticipated that this redistribution of work would result in more timely adjudication of these petitions. Due to a number of unforeseen circumstances at our Texas Service Center, many of these cases have not been processed and are beyond our estimated processing times. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may have caused you and we are making every effort to remedy this situation as soon as possible. - USCIS

02/04/2011: EOIR FY 2010 Statistical Year Book

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) today [2/1/2011] announced the release of its Fiscal Year 2010 Statistical Year Book. The book is a compilation of figures and tables that provides meaningful data on aliens who appeared before an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals during the previous fiscal year. It examines the data on the alien respondents' cases by nationality, language, and disposition, and provides a window into asylum cases. EOIR also announced that, in addition to the standard information, this year's book includes national pending caseload numbers for the immigration courts. - DOJ

02/04/2011: Winter Storms Close Several Offices

Many USCIS offices, including the Texas and Nebraska Service Centers, closed during the week of January 31, 2011, because of severe snow and ice storms that paralyzed much of the United States. USCIS will make adjustments to acknowledge timely filings for those who submitted immigration filings or responded to a request for additional information by a specific deadline. - USCIS

02/03/2011: Important Information for Students of Tri-Valley University

The Consulate General of India posted an important article with information for students of Tri-Valley University affected by the recent action of ICE. - CGISF

02/03/2011: Scheduled USCIS.gov Outage

There will be a scheduled application outage starting on Saturday, Feb. 5, 8 a.m. EST until 9 a.m. EST Sunday, Feb 6. During this time you will not be able to access:

  • My Case Status
  • Change of Address Online
  • e-Request
  • Processing Times
  • Civil Surgeon Locator, or
  • Office Profiles under Find a USCIS Office

02/03/2011: Happy Chinese New Year!

01/31/2011: DOS Travel Warning - Egypt

The U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to Egypt due to ongoing political and social unrest. On January 30, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees. Violent demonstrations have occurred in several areas of Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of the country, disrupting road travel between city centers and airports. Disruptions in communications, including internet service, may occur. - DOS

01/31/2011: "VIBE" Tool Q&A

The Web-based Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE) is a tool designed to enhance USCIS's adjudications of certain employment-based immigration petitions. VIBE uses commercially available data to validate basic information about companies or organizations petitioning to employ alien workers. USCIS is beta-testing VIBE, and petitioners may begin seeing VIBE-related Requests For Evidence (RFEs). - USCIS

01/27/2011: USCIS Reaches FY 2011 H-1B Cap

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) 2011. USCIS is notifying the public that yesterday, Jan. 26, 2011, is the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in FY2011. - USCIS

01/26/2011: Hundreds of Indian Students May be Deported from US

Hundreds of Indian students , mostly from Andhra Pradesh , face the prospect of deportation from the US after authorities raided and shut down a university in the Silicon Valley on charges of a massive immigration fraud. The Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, a major suburb in San Francisco Bay Area, has been charged by federal investigating authorities with being part of an effort to defraud, misuse visa permits and indulge in money laundering and other crimes. - Indian Times

01/24/2011: USCIS TPS Memo

This memorandum provides guidance for adjudication of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applications and administrative appeals in cases involving certain offenses where a state or local court has issued a "no jail" or "no incarceration" certification related to the offense. In addition, this memorandum reminds adjudicators to take TPS cases to USCIS counsel for further review and guidance where it appears that the applicant may be ineligible for TPS on the basis of two misdemeanors as defined by 8 C.F.R. ยง 244.1, but where one or more of the offenses at issue is not classified as a misdemeanor by the particular state or local jurisdiction. This memorandum also updates Chapter 38.1(e)(12) of the Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) regarding TPS ineligibility grounds. - USCIS

01/24/2011: FY 2011 H-1B Cap Count

62,800 as of January 21. The "Cap" is likely to be reached within a week or two. See data and graph here.

01/24/2011: USCIS-AILA Teleconference Q&A

On December 8, 2010, the USCIS Service Center Operations Directorate hosted an engagement with AILA representatives. USCIS discussed issues related to the interaction between USCIS and the Kentucky Consular Center, H-1B applications and motions to reopen. The information below provides a review of the questions solicited by AILA and the responses provided by USCIS. - USCIS

01/19/2011: H-1B Professionals Paid Comparably to U.S. Conterparts

A recently released GAO report undermines the primary argument levied against H-1B visas, namely the allegation that employers only hire H-1B professionals because they will work more cheaply. The GAO report finds that when adjusted for age, H-1B professionals in key fields earn generally the same or more than their U.S. counterparts. These fields are electrical/electronics engineering, systems analysis and programming, and occupations in college and university education. In addition, the report notes that employers endure significant uncertainty, time, and expense (government fees and legal costs) in hiring skilled foreign nationals, indicating that hiring the best candidate for the job, whether U.S.-born or foreign-born, is the primary consideration for employers. The report also confirms that a wide variety of employers utilize H-1Bs, including large multinationals and startup companies, and that restrictions on H-1B visas influence sending work outside the United States. - NFAP

01/19/2011: Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guideline

This notice provides an update of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guidelines to account for last calendar year's increase in prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index. - Department of Health and Human Service

01/14/2011: New Countries Eligible to Participate in H-2A and H-2B Programs

Effective Jan. 18, 2011, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu. Of these countries, the following were designated for the first time this year: Barbados, Estonia, Fiji, Hungary, Kiribati, Latvia, Macedonia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. - USCIS

01/14/2011: Reforms Are Needed to Minimize the Risks and Costs of H-1B Program

This report offers several matters for congressional consideration, including that Congress re-examine key H-1B program provisions and make appropriate changes as needed. GAO also recommends that the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor take steps to improve efficiency, flexibility, and monitoring of the H-1B program. Homeland Security disagreed with two recommendations and one matter, citing logistical and other challenges; however, we believe such challenges can be overcome. Labor did not respond to our recommendations. - GAO

01/13/2011: USCIS Pending I-485 Inventory Released

The green card tracker has now been updated with the new data (as of January 5, 2011).

01/12/2011: February 2011 Visa Bulletin Released

01/11/2011: Far From Border, U.S. Detains Foreign Students

Although the Canadian border is nearly 100 miles behind them-and Bangor, Maine's second-largest city, just 15 miles ahead-motorists are queried about their citizenship and immigration status. Those who raise an agent's suspicions are sent to an adjacent weigh station for further questioning and, sometimes, searches. Any foreign students or scholars unable to produce all of their original documentation are detained and could be arrested. - Chronicle

01/11/2011: USCIS Memo on Regressed Visa Number Cases

This Policy Memorandum (PM) provides USCIS offices with instructions for handling regressed visa number Adjustment of Status cases (employment-based and family-based) interviewed at USCIS field offices on or after January 1, 2011. This PM also provides specific instructions regarding the handling of regressed visa number cases for which USCIS field offices have already requested, but not yet received, allocated visa numbers. - USCIS

01/06/2011: Birthright Citizenship Legal Battle

In a move certain to escalate the legal tug of war over illegal immigration, state lawmakers from across the country announced Wednesday that they are launching an effort to deny automatic citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. - WaPo

State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), a coalition of state legislators, revealed their plan to challenge the 14th Amendment and the Constitutional definition of citizenship. Claiming that they need to correct a "monumental misapplication of the 14th Amendment" and protect their states from the "illegal alien invasion," the legislators proposed model legislation intended to spark a new Supreme Court ruling to reinterpret the 14th Amendment. The model legislation attempts to create a new definition of "state citizenship" and narrow the categories of people who would be citizens at birth: only children born to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident would be considered citizens. - AIC

As the new Congress convened, a group called State Legislators for Legal Immigration proposed two laws. One would declare that children of parents who immigrated here illegally are not born "subject to the jurisdiction" of the U.S. and so are not birthright citizens under the 14th Amendment. Under the other, states would issue two types of birth certificates, one for those born "subject to the jurisdiction" of the U.S. and one for everyone else. The states have no power to pass the first proposed law. Congress may be able to, but it is a bad idea that will not halt illegal immigration. It also has no chance to pass the Senate or override President Obama's certain veto. If it were enacted, the courts would strike it down. It is symbolic politics expressing special hostility to Mexican immigrants, who comprise almost 60% of the nation's undocumented population. - NY Daily News

A coalition of state legislators, motivated by concerns about illegal immigration, is expected to endorse state-level legislation today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to deny the privileges of U.S citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented persons.This effort to rewrite U.S. citizenship law from state to state is unconstitutional-and curious. Opponents of illegal immigration cannot claim to champion the rule of law and then, in the same breath, propose policies that violate our Constitution. - WSJ

01/03/2011: H-1B Master's Exemption Cap Reached

As of 12/24/2010, USCIS has received over 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a Master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education. USCIS will continue to accept these petitions which will be counted against the regular cap instead. - H-1B Count

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