Immigration News - July and August of 2009

08/31/2009: USCIS Guidance for Surviving Spouses of U.S. Citizens ("Widow Penalty")

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today issued guidance on requesting deferred action for surviving spouses of U.S. citizens who died before the second anniversary of their marriage. Surviving spouses qualify for this temporary program if they were married to, but not legally separated from, their U.S. citizen spouse at the time of that spouse's death; did not remarry; and are currently residing in the United States.

08/28/2009: Expiration Date of Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 Extended

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the Office of Management and Budget has extended its approval of Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) to Aug. 31, 2012. Consequently, USCIS has amended the form to reflect a new revision date of Aug. 7, 2009. Employers may use the Form I-9 with the revision date of either Aug. 7, 2009 or Feb. 2, 2009. The revision dates are located on the bottom right-hand portion of the form.

08/28/2009: Where Immigration Reform Stands Without Kennedy

While Democrats in Congress are hoping to push health care reform forward in honor of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, the senator's death serves as a reminder that Congress and President Obama have substantial work to do to accomplish another of Kennedy's lifelong causes: immigration reform. - CBS News

08/28/2009: Immigration Reform in 2011?!?!

"In Obama's tumultuous first year, comprehensive immigration reform has taken a back seat to the economy, health care and the environment. But Obama is widely expected to push for immigration reform in 2011, and Napolitano may end up being the public face of the administration during the debate." - Arizona Capitol Time

08/26/2009: Kennedy 'Fashioned the Modern Day' Immigration System

Sen. Edward Kennedy's first major legislative victory helped change the face of the country and shaped his own political career. In 1965, Kennedy had been in the Senate less than three years. His party's leaders gave him the job of pushing a bill to eliminate the quota system that had made it virtually impossible for anyone from anywhere but western Europe to immigrate to the USA. - USA Today

08/24/2009: Advertisers Drop Glenn Beck over "Racist" Comments

Glenn Beck returns to Fox News Channel on Monday after a vacation with fewer companies willing to advertise on his show than when he left, part of the fallout from calling President Barack Obama a racist. A total of 33 Fox advertisers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., CVS Caremark, Clorox and Sprint, directed that their commercials not air on Beck's show, according to the companies and ColorofChange.org, a group that promotes political action among blacks and launched a campaign to get advertisers to abandon him. That's more than a dozen more than were identified a week ago. - AP News

08/24/2009: Obama Tweet: How to respond to the lie that health reform means "pulling the plug on grandma"

"Whether or not you have health insurance right now. the reforms we seek will bring stability and security that you don't have today. This isn't about politics. This about people's lives. This about people's businesses. This is about our future" - President Barack Obama

08/23/2009: Foreigners Attending US Grad Schools Way Down

It's happening: Lou Dobbs' dream come true and Silicon Valley's worst nightmare. We're already seeing the reverse brain drain as smart immigrants take their US educations and experience building companies and creating technology back to their home countries. But now, xenophobia and the lack of any sensible H-1B visa policy is keeping the world's brightest minds from coming to the U.S. in the first place. - TechCrunch

08/22/2009: White House Moves to Placate Immigration Reform Advocates

Immigrant rights activists said Friday that a White House meeting this week to reaffirm support for immigration reform -- featuring a surprise appearance by President Obama -- had helped mollify growing frustration over what some perceived as backpedaling on reform promises. - LA Times

08/22/2009: Asians to Meet on Immigration

In an Immigration movement driven largely by Spanish-speaking Latinos, there haven't been many, if any, chants of "Yes, we can!" echoing through Chicago in Mandarin (Wo mun ke yi!), Hindi (Hum kar saktay hae!) or Korean (Halsu ee da!)

Among several Asian-themed Immigration events occurring nationwide this week, the rally inside the Salvation Army church in North Park is partly an effort to diversify the message of a movement whose mostly Mexican flavor has drawn intense scorn from groups resentful of illegal border crossings. - Chicago Tribune

08/20/2009: Obama to Push for Immigration Reform this Year (or Next)

According to various posts on the internet, President Obama stopped by and addressed a big crowd at a White House immigration meeting today, hosted by DHS head Janet Napolitano. Reportedly, Obama reaffirmed his support for overhauling immigration laws, and might have indicated that comprehensive immigration reform will move forward, along with healthcare reform. Obama's comment last week while in Mexico that CIR had to wait until next year drew a flood of criticism from business and immigrant advocate groups. Here is Napolitano's announcement after the meeting, including a list of attendees.

08/20/2009: Cash for Clunkers Program will End on Monday

The wildly successful Cash for Clunkers program is running out of gas, and will come to a close on Monday. Under "Cash for Clunkers," consumers are given credits of either $3,500 or $4,500 for trading in gas-guzzling vehicles and buying new, more fuel-efficient ones. If you still own the "clunker" that carried you around campus, and are now in the market for a better car, you have four days to take advantage of this government program. Check out cars.gov for eligibility information and other details.

08/20/2009: Online Tool Sheds Sunlight on Court Records

A group of academics have unveiled an online tool to make federal courts transparent by providing free public access to court records -- and they are encouraging the White House to help with the effort.

The Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University this month began to unlock the paid service, Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), with an application that automatically donates purchased documents to a free online repository. The service RECAP -- which is "PACER" turned around, literally --- is available for download through the Mozilla browser. - NextGov Article

08/20/2009: USCIS.gov Website Down

USCIS web server is partially down today. Access to services such as processing dates and online case status checking has been unavailable. As the launching date of new website quickly approaches, be prepared to see more scheduled or unexpected server outages.

08/18/2009: U.S. Intensifies Audits of Employers

"A senior U.S. immigration official said Monday that his agency will intensify a crackdown on employers of workers in the country illegally as part of the Obama administration's new immigration strategy. John Morton, the new chief of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, said that the agency is set to increase the number of companies it will audit and systematically impose fines on violators. Violations could also lead to criminal charges, he said." - WSJ Story

08/18/2009: Actor's US 'Detention' Prompts Outrage in India

"Angry fans burned a U.S. flag in protest Sunday, a Cabinet minister suggested searching visiting Americans and an actress tweeted her outrage after Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan said he was detained for questioning at a U.S. airport. Though U.S. immigration officials denied he was formally held, fellow Indian film stars and political leaders condemned what they called "humiliating" treatment given to Khan, a Muslim who is well-loved in a largely Hindu country. One Cabinet minister suggested a "tit-for-tat" policy toward Americans traveling to India." - AP Story

08/15/2009: Eligible Religious Workers Must File I-485 before End of August

USCIS Reminds Eligible Applicants under Ruiz-Diaz to File Adjustment of Status Application before End of August. Special immigrant religious workers who have a pending or approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, (Form I-360), must file their Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, (Form I-485), on or before Aug. 31, 2009. Special immigrant religious workers who wish to file a Form I-360 petition with an I-485 application should also file on or before Aug. 31, 2009. - USCIS Update

08/15/2009: Illegal Immigration Enters Health-Care Debate

When the two hottest issues must be linked together, you know it will get messy - WSJ story

08/12/2009: Alejandro Mayorkas Sworn in as USCIS Director

Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in today as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a ceremony at USCIS headquarters here. Mayorkas, a Cuban immigrant to the United States, comes to USCIS with a broad legal background and will lead the agency charged with running the nation's immigration and naturalization system. Nominated by President Obama on April 24 and unanimously confirmed on August 7 by the U.S. Senate, Mayorkas will oversee a workforce of nearly 18,000 people. - USCIS News Release

08/11/2009: September 2009 Visa Bulletin

Cut-off dates for EB-2 China and India advanced to January 8, 2005. The rest of EB2 and all EB1 remain "current." Visa numbers for the entire EB3 category are still "unavailable." See our visa bulletin chart for a graphic display of visa retrogression.

EB4 and certain religious workers categories unexpectedly become Unavailable, and this new status took effect today, not starting September 1st.

"Heavy applicant demand for numbers in the Employment Fourth, and Employment Fourth Certain Religious Worker, categories has resulted in their becoming "Unavailable" for September. This "Unavailable" status will take effect immediately for August because the annual limit for those categories has been reached. Therefore, no further requests for numbers in those categories can be processed during FY-2009. The Employment Fourth preference can be expected to return to a "Current" status for October, the first month of the new fiscal year. The Employment Fourth Certain Religious Workers category is currently scheduled to expire on September 30, 2009, and future availability will depend on legislative action."

08/06/2009: USCIS Places $3.1 Million Order for Green Cards

USCIS recently placed a purchase order of $3.1 million for Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). The cards are to be delivered by December 31, 2009. Good sign?

08/06/2009: Conditional Permanent Residents and Naturalization - 319(b)

This memorandum provides field guidance and updates the Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) to address circumstances under which an alien who was admitted as a lawful permanent resident on a conditional basis ("conditional permanent resident" or "CPR") pursuant to section 216 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act) may be naturalized under section 319(b) of the Act prior to the removal of the conditions.

08/05/2009: USCIS Green Card Tracker Coming Soon

The first CTO of the United States mentioned in a speech that the USCIS I-485 status tracker could be on its way, maybe as early as next month.

08/04/2009: China's 'Green Card' still in Demand

The creation of a Chinese Green Card in 2004 was a milestone in the country's immigration law. Five years on, the card is an increasingly sought-after document. On August 15, 2004, the Regulations on Examination and Approval of Permanent Residence of Aliens in China created a Green Card system granting qualified foreigners the right to live in China permanently. - China.org.cn

08/03/2009: Feds Boost U Visa Program for Crime Victims

Crimes against illegal immigrants often go unreported. Victims fear that a call to the police could lead to deportation. But in some cases, that call could eventually lead to a visa. Or even a green card. - KUOW.org

08/02/2009: UK to Unveil Points System for British Citizenship

The immigration minister, Phil Woolas, will outline details of how immigrants will be expected to "earn" a British passport by accumulating points for voluntary work, speaking English, paying taxes or having useful skills. Being willing to live in parts of the country where skills shortages are high is also likely to gain points. Crucially, the move to a points-based system - rather than the current near-automatic right to citizenship for anyone who has lived in Britain for five years without a criminal record - will allow the government to raise or lower the hurdles as they choose, depending on economic and political circumstances. "We are going to be tougher about people becoming citizens. There won't be an automatic right any longer, and the link between work and citizenship is effectively broken," a senior Home Office source said. - Guardian

07/30/2009: Simple Mistake, Devastating Results

"Unlike millions of illegal immigrants, Canadian Ben Neufeld attempted to stay within the law and keep his family in the United States as permanent residents. He succeeded in getting his green card, but because of a paperwork mistake he made in the long, complicated process, his wife and oldest child were declared illegal residents." - Kansas City Star

We have posted many examples of how simple errors in the immigration process could have severe consequences. One common mistake is not filing extensions or renewals in a timely manner. Others include voting or declaring citizenship before naturalization, unauthorized employment (gap between EAD's, for example), filling out immigration forms with wrong information that may be considered as fraud, and leaving out dependents like the one mentioned above. Whether the mistake was due to negligence or even omission by the attorney's office, it is extremely difficult to overturn the result and penalties. As one attorney commented in this story, immigration is "a very unforgiving process."

07/27/2009: RFE on Rise for H-1B Visas and Green Cards

ComputerWorld published an article today discussing the increase of RFE for H-1B and Green Card applications. According to several AILA attorneys, "In recent months, the USCIS has compelled some applicants to provide corporate payroll records, zoning maps and even building fire-safety plans," and the new requests are "on the border of harassment."

Crystal Williams, co-director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, had some strong words about USCIS by saying that they are "attempting to build a barrier, to make it as difficult as it possibly can be to get a visa."

However, although the title has "green card" in it, the article focuses almost entirely on H-1B visas. The one paragraph that mentions green card doesn't even make sense:

"Suhi Koizumi, a special counsel at Buchalter Nemer LLP in San Francisco, said she has encountered increased, burdensome government demands for what she called irrelevant documents from companies looking to hire workers who hold permanent residency cards, or green cards."

If an employee already holds a green card, there is very little paperwork (for I-9 compliance) during the hiring process. Maybe the article meant to say "from companies looking to hire workers who are still pursuing green cards," because in this type of situations USCIS may request burdensome documents before approving employment-based I-485 applications. - Full Article

07/27/2009: USCIS Q&A for Refugees and Asylees Filing I-485

USCIS Q&A

07/27/2009: Dealing with USCIS, plus DMV

A 78-year-old man lost his driver's license because the Oregon DMV believed his green card, issued in 1961, was no longer valid. Being a legal immigrant for almost a half-century, he now has to deal with USCIS and DMV at the same time to prove it. Oh boy!

07/22/2009: USCIS May Reopen Certain Health Care H-1B Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today (7/17) issued guidance to certain employers who received a denial of Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting H-1B classification for a beneficiary to practice in a health care specialty occupation prior to May 20, 2009. If the Form I-129 was denied solely on the basis that the beneficiary did not possess a Master's or higher degree in the field, the petition may be reopened on service motion and will be adjudicated in accordance with the May 20, 2009 memorandum.

07/22/2009: Do Not Be a Victim of Immigration Fraud

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) posted a warning on its website:

"If you need help with your immigration case, watch out for persons who pretend to be immigration attorneys or accredited representatives. They can take your money, involve you in immigration fraud, and get you deported or arrested."

07/22/2009: Premium Processing for R-1 Religious Worker Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective July 20, 2009, it will resume Premium Processing Service for R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker petitions filed by certain R-1 petitioners in accordance with 8 CFR 103.2(f)(2). Only those petitioners who have successfully passed an on-site inspection are eligible to use Premium Processing Service.

07/22/2009: New DHS Website and DHS YouTube Channel

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today launched the DHS YouTube Channel and announced the redesign of DHS.gov - steps to enhance the Department's web presence, increase transparency and provide accurate, up-to-date information to the public. The new site has a clean layout and is easy to navigate.

If you are into the Twitter world, you may also follow DHS (HomelandSecurit) and USCIS (USCIS). Not many updates though.

07/21/2009: Debating The Snakehead

Patrick Radden Keefe, author of The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream, discussed his book with Sudhir Venkatesh, a professor of sociology and African-American studies at Columbia University:

"But in the end, I may come out of writing the book more optimistic than you came out of reading it. Sean Chen had a son recently who was born in the United States, and while some of the Golden Venture passengers have never fully assimilated to American life, their American citizen children generally will."

"And despite the criminality and depredations associated with the arrival of the Fujianese - and unlike many American - born individuals in the underprivileged urban neighborhoods you have studied - I think that most of them ultimately will." - Slate

07/20/2009: ICE Supplemental Guidance on the Cap-Gap Extension

This supplemental guidance addresses two significant areas related to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System's (SEVIS) functionality and interface with other government systems, provides guidance on this issue and describes current workarounds, where available.

07/20/2009: USCIS Memo on I-751 Filed Prior to Termination of Marriage

USCIS released an important memo dated April 3, 2009, which provides guidance on how to adjudicate an I-751 petition if the Conditional Permanent Resident (CPR) and petition spouse are legally separated or have initiated divorce or annulment proceedings, but the marriage has not been terminated.

07/20/2009: "Contact Me or I Will Send Immigration to Your Work"

"A Durham-based immigration services officer is accused of threatening to have a Salvadoran woman deported unless she agreed to spend the night with him, according to federal agents who arrested him this week." - News and Observer

07/19/2009: Judy Chu, First Chinese American Woman Elected to Congress

Congratulations to Judy Chu, PhD, who became the first Chinese American woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress.

07/18/2009: High-Tech Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the United States

Policymakers are rightly concerned that government should sustain a healthy climate for starting and running high-impact, high-tech companies like those in our sample. Immigration policy, as it affects highly educated and highly experienced foreign-born individuals who might be drawn into high-tech entrepreneurship, is an important element of that climate. - SBA.gov

07/13/2009: FY 2010 H-1B Update

As ofJuly 10, 2009, approximately 44,900 H-1B cap-subject petitions and approximately 20,000 petitions qualifying for the advanced degree cap exemption had been filed. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn.

07/13/2009: USCIS Federal Register Announcements

Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition; Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability; Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

07/13/2009: How Much for a Fake Green Card?

$110. "Federal prosecutors have filed charges against two Whatcom County men accused of selling falsified immigration documents to undocumented immigrants." - Seattle PI

07/10/2009: August 2009 Visa Bulletin

Cut-off dates for EB-2 China and India moved forward to October 1, 2003. Still a long wait for most people but definitely better than July's 1/1/2000. The rest of EB2 and all EB1 remain "current." Visa numbers for the entire EB3 category are still "unavailable." See our visa bulletin chart for a graphic display of visa retrogression.

EB4 may retrogress in September, but is likely to return to "current" status in October, 2009.

Diversity Visa (DV-2010) results are also published in this bulletin.

07/05/2009: Piecing Together an Immigrant's Life the U.S. Refused to See

"His only trouble with the law was a $200 fine for disorderly conduct in 1997: While working at a Houston gas station, he had displayed the business's unlicensed gun to stop a robbery." Unfortunately, this incident led to his arrest, and eventually death in an immigration jail. - NYT Story

07/03/2009: Statue of Liberty Crown to Reopen Fourth of July

For the first time since it was closed after September 11, 2001, the Statue of Liberty's Crown will reopen to tourists tomorrow, July 4th. The $15 tickets sold out quickly for the opening weekend. Only 30 visitors per hour, selected by lottery, will be allowed to climb the 354 steps accompanied by park rangers.

07/03/2009: USCIS Pending Applications in May 2009

Applications and petitions for immigration benefits in May 2009 decreased 7 percent compared to the number received in May 2008. May 2009 approvals increased by 25 percent, denials increased by 76 percent, and pending decreased less than 19% compared to May 2008.

  • 1,291,525 I-130 immediate/all other petitions;
  • 535,534 I-485 applications to adjust status;
  • 139,189 I-765 employment authorizations;
  • 124,324 I-90 green card renewals/replacements;
  • 116,345 I-751 remove conditions spouse jointly/waive;
  • 49,183 I-131 reentry permit/refugee travel document and advance parole.
  • 276,877 N-400 Naturalization

07/02/2009: CDC Proposing to Remove HIV from List

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is proposing to revise the Part 34 regulation to remove 'Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection' from the definition of 'communicable disease of public health significance. HHS/CDC is also proposing to remove references to 'HIV' from the scope of examinations in its regulations. Aliens infected with a 'communicable disease of public health significance' are inadmissible into the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

07/02/2009: Fingerprint Appointment Cancellation Notices for July 6 - 10

System errors caused a number of Application Support Centers to be overscheduled during the week of July 6-10, 2009. As a result, some applicants may receive cancellation notices for appointments originally scheduled during this timeframe. If you do not receive a cancellation notice, please appear at your ASC appointment as scheduled. If you do receive a cancellation notice, you will soon receive an ASC appointment notice for a new date and time, typically for an appointment within the next two to four weeks.

07/01/2009: New Chief Immigration Judge Announced

Attorney General Eric Holder announced today the appointment of Brian M. O'Leary as the Executive Office for Immigration Review's (EOIR) Chief Immigration Judge. Prior to his appointment, Judge O'Leary served as an immigration judge from May 2007 to June 2009 at the Arlington, Va., Immigration Court. He served as a temporary board member on the Board of Immigration Appeals from May 2006 to May 2007 and as a deputy chief immigration judge in the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge from March 2003 to May 2006.

07/01/2009: ICE to Audit 652 Businesses Nationwide

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is launching a bold, new audit initiative today by issuing Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 652 businesses nationwide - which is more than ICE issued throughout all of last fiscal year. The notices alert business owners that ICE will be inspecting their hiring records to determine whether or not they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations. Inspections are one of the most powerful tools the federal government has to enforce employment and immigration laws. This new initiative illustrates ICE's increased focus on holding employers accountable for their hiring practices and efforts to ensure a legal workforce.

07/01/2009: American Apparel Employees Found to Lack Work Authorization

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement believes that about one-third of American Apparel Inc.'s Los Angeles work force isn't eligible to work in the country. ICE said 1,600 employees appear not to be authorized to work in the U.S., American Apparel disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Tuesday. Those employees appear to have obtained employment by providing documentation which ICE believes to be suspect and not valid, American Apparel said. - WSJ


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