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Immigration News - March and April of 2013

04/29/2013: Supreme Court Refuses to Revive Alabama Immigration Law

The Supreme Court has blocked Alabama from enforcing a state law that authorized the police to arrest and jail persons who hid or transported illegal immigrants. By a 8-1 vote, the justices let stand lower court rulings that said enforcing the immigration laws is the job of the federal government, not the states. Those rulings in turn were based on last year's Supreme Court ruling which threw out most of Arizona's strict immigration enforcement law. - LA Times

04/23/2013: Scams Blocking Chinese Investors' Path to U.S. Green Cards

Jianwei Li and two other wealthy Chinese businessmen thought they had a sure thing when they wired $1 million each to a California firm that had promised to build a fine Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area city of San Bruno.

The project had an alluring budget with multiple lucky 8s — $5,888,888 — and the three investors were assured it would create enough jobs to obtain the real prize: a U.S. green card. Months passed and nothing happened. When Li's friends cornered the project developer one evening at a karaoke bar, the man, identified in court papers as Sammy Lee, apparently devised a fantastic escape. - LA Times

04/22/2013: Live Webcast of Committee Hearing

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing scheduled for Monday, April 22, 2013 at 10:00 a.m., in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building is now entitled "The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744." - senate.gov

04/22/2013: Rand Paul: Stop Immigration Bill until We Understand Boston

Sen. Rand Paul said Monday that the immigration reform debate should be halted until Congress first understands what went wrong in Boston, where two brothers who came to the U.S. legally under the asylum program have been accused of the deadly bombings at last week's marathon. The Kentucky Republican had given the immigration issue a big boost when he said earlier this year he supported taking action. But in light of last week's bombings, Mr. Paul said things have changed. - Washington Times

04/19/2013: Boston Bombing Spurs Senate Debate on Tighter Immigration Screening

The Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt for the suspects have already become part of the debate over immigration reform in Washington, with one high ranking Republican questioning the screening process that allows immigrants into the United States. The Senate Judiciary Committee was all set to hear testimony from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on the bipartisan immigration overhaul introduced by a group of eight senators, but she had to postpone due to ongoing developments in the search. - NBC

04/18/2013: BU Scholarship to Honor LU Lingzi

As thousands of offers to help in some way pour in from alumni, friends, and others around the world, a fund has been established to endow a memorial scholarship at the [Boston] University in the name of LU Lingzi, the BU graduate student who was one of three people killed in the Boston Marathon bomb attacks on April 15. - BU

04/16/2013: 'Gang of Eight' Immigration Bill Details

The federal government could pump an additional $7 billion into securing the border with Mexico, the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants could become U.S. citizens in 13 years or less, and the country's legal immigration system would be fundamentally altered under a bill by a bipartisan group of senators to be filed Tuesday. - USA Today

04/15/2013: Rubio's Tough Line on Immigration Makes Sense

The Florida lawmaker [Marco Rubio], and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, appeared on seven Sunday talk shows, discussing -- in English and Spanish -- the specifics of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he hammered out with three other Senate Republicans and four Senate Democrats. The legislation is expected to be formally unveiled on Tuesday. This means that, by Wednesday, just about everyone will be angry. Conservatives will declare the provisions of the bill too lenient, while Hispanics will condemn them as too punitive. Welcome to the immigration debate. - CNN

04/10/2013: May 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the May 2013 Visa Bulletin. The table below shows cut-off date movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. For more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 44
India Second (EB2) 0
ROW Third (EB3) 153
China Third (EB3) 223
India Third (EB3) 14
Mexico Third (EB3) 153
Philippines Third (EB3) 7

"The Employment-based Third preference category cut-off date for most countries has advanced significantly. This has been done in an attempt to generate demand so that the annual numerical limits may be fully utilized, and such movements may continue for the next few months. The rapid movement of cut-off dates is often followed months later by a dramatic increase in demand for numbers. Once such demand begins to materialize the cut-off date movements will begin to slow or stop." - DOS

04/08/2013: Demand Data Released for May 2013 Visa Bulletin

DOS has released the demand data used to determine May 2013 visa cut-off dates. Official visa bulletin is likely to be out tomorrow or Wednesday.

04/08/2013: FY-2014 H-1B Selection Process Completed

USCIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 7, 2013, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a "lottery") to select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing. - USCIS

04/08/2013: USCIS to Implement Customer Identity Verification at Field Offices

On Monday, May 6, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will implement Customer Identity Verification (CIV) in its field offices. Individuals will now be required to submit biometric data, specifically fingerprints and photographs, when appearing at USCIS offices for interviews or to receive evidence of an immigration benefit. CIV will help to both defend against threats to national security and protect customers from identity fraud by enhancing the agency's ability to verify identity.

04/05/2013: USCIS Reaches FY 2014 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) 2014. USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. After today, USCIS will not accept H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2014 cap or the advanced degree exemption.

04/03/2013: CBP to Rollout New Arrival/Departure-Record Process for Foreign Visitors

When the electronic rollout begins April 30, CBP will no longer require international non-immigrant visitors to fill out a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. The agency will gather travelers' arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. This automation will streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security and reduce federal costs. CBP anticipates that the automated process will save the agency an estimated $15.5 million a year. - CBP

04/02/2013: USCIS Temporarily Suspends Adjudication of Most H-2B Petitions Following Court Order

Effective March 22, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is temporarily suspending adjudication of most Form I-129 H-2B petitions for temporary non-agricultural workers while the government considers appropriate action in response to the Court order entered March 21, 2013 in Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas et al v. Solis, 2:09-cv-00240-LDD (E.D. Pa). That order granted a permanent injunction against the operation of the portion of the Department of Labor's (DOL) 2008 wage rule related to certain prevailing wage determinations and gave DOL 30 days to come into compliance with the Court order. - USCIS

04/01/2013: Senator Ted Cruz on Immigration Reform

"I think the two critical elements [of immigration reform] are, number one: getting serious about securing the border: tripling the border patrol, providing technology, providing helicopters with infrared, providing the tools to drop illegal immigration and to solve the problem. And then number two: I think there are positive reforms to legal immigration — to make it easier to deal with, the lose [?] the paperwork, the burden, the waiting periods — that would receive overwhelming bipartisan support... I think the best place to start at immigration [reform] is where there's wide agreement. President Obama doesn't want to do that. He wants to pick a path to citizenship precisely because he knows that it's a partisan, divisive issue and he holds everything else hostage to that wedge issue." - Mediaite

03/31/2013: The Immigration Spring

It has been amazing this year to watch immigration reform, that perennial train wreck of an issue, keep rolling forward without losing steam or blowing up. A bipartisan band of senators called the Gang of Eight has been working steadily for months on a bill; a similar group in the House is doing the same; diverse outside forces are lining up to urge all of them on, and every week seems to bring new reason for optimism. - NY Times

03/27/2013: CBP Teleconference on I-94 Automation

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today published an interim final rule in the Federal Register to automate Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Effective on April 26, 2013, the rule streamlines the admissions process for individuals lawfully visiting the United States.

CBP invites interested individuals to participate in a stakeholder teleconference on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern). During the teleconference, subject matter experts from CBP will provide an update on the process to automate Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, and answer questions. Please use the information below to join the teleconference. We recommend that you call in 20 minutes before its start. Call-in Number: 1-888-566-7682. Passcode: AUTOMATION.

03/26/2013: USCIS California Service Center Closure

On Monday, March 25, 2013, some customers were notified of delivery delays to the USCIS California Service Center (CSC). The delays were the result of a temporary closure of CSC due to plumbing issues. The CSC will remain closed on Tuesday, March, 26, 2013. Deliveries will resume once CSC reopens. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will provide updates as they become available. - USCIS

Updated 03/27/2013: The USCIS California Service Center (CSC) has reopened following a temporary closure due to plumbing issues. Deliveries have resumed and USCIS does not anticipate any delays due to the closure.

03/22/2013: CBP Plans to Introduce Paperless I-94

U.S. Customs and Border Protection today announced that it has submitted to the Federal Register a rule that will automate Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to streamline the admissions process for individuals lawfully visiting the United States. Form I-94 provides international visitors evidence they have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. which is necessary to verify alien registration, immigration status, and employment authorization. The automation means that affected visitors will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea, improving procedures and reducing costs. The change will go into effect 30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register. - CBP

03/22/2013: USCIS Eliminates Saturday Operation of National Customer Service Center

The USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) is introducing new public hours of operation for our toll-free number at 800-375-5283. Effective immediately, USCIS will eliminate Saturday hours of operation. Beginning April 1, the NCSC will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, in all four time zones in the contiguous United States. This adjustment will allow USCIS to better serve customers during peak contact hours and respond more quickly to customer needs.

03/19/2013: USCIS Provides Updated RFE Response Time

This policy memorandum (PM) sets the amount of time U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers may provide an applicant to respond to a Request for Evidence (RFE) that is issued in relation to an Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, Form I-601A. It also amends previousinterim RFE guidance by assigning a specific timeframe to RFEs issued during the Form I-601A adjudication.

Circumstance Standard Response Time (calendar days) Additional Mailing Time When Residing
In the U.S. Outside the U.S.
To submit evidence required for the Form I-539 (extension of stay or change in status). 30 3 N/A
To submit evidence required for the Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. 30 3 N/A
To submit evidence for all other benefit types, regardless of whether the request is for initial or additional evidence, or whether the evidence is available in the United States or from overseas sources. 84 3 14

03/15/2013: USCIS to Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2014 on April 1, 2013

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 cap on Monday, April 1, 2013. Cases will be considered accepted on the date that USCIS receives a properly filed petition for which the correct fee has been submitted; not the date that the petition is postmarked.

The cap (the numerical limitation on H-1B petitions) for FY 2014 is 65,000. In addition, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with U.S. master's degree or higher are exempt from the fiscal year cap of 65,000. - USCIS

03/12/2013: HP Wins $220 Million USCIS Call Center Contract

HP Enterprise Services today[03/07] announced it has been awarded a task order valued at up to $220.5 million by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a Department of Homeland Security Department bureau, to manage call centers for people applying for citizenship or who need immigration assistance.

HP is leveraging proven processes to recruit, hire, train and manage a skilled team of more than 200 contact center professionals in multiple locations. These professionals will address questions related to citizenship and immigration by phone, with the potential to add contact types like email and chat in the future. HP's expertise will improve service center quality and efficiency in answering and resolving calls while enhancing the customer experience. - HP

03/11/2013: April 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the April 2013 Visa Bulletin. The table below shows cut-off date movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. For more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 46
India Second (EB2) 0
ROW Third (EB3) 61
China Third (EB3) 90
India Third (EB3) 16
Mexico Third (EB3) 61
Philippines Third (EB3) 7

03/11/2013: Senators Agree on Path to Legal Status for Illegal Immigrants

Eight senators who have spent weeks trying to write a bipartisan bill to overhaul immigration laws have privately agreed on the most contentious part of the draft — how to offer legal status to the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants.

According to aides familiar with the closed-door negotiations, the bill would require illegal immigrants to register with Homeland Security Department authorities, file federal income taxes for their time in America and pay a still-to-be-determined fine. They also must have a clean law enforcement record. - LA Times

03/08/2013: Demand Data for April 2013 Visa Bulletin

Demand Data Used in the Determination of the April 2013 Employment Preference Cut-Off Dates

03/07/2013: H-1B Visa Fraud Indictment in Texas

A Texas IT services firm has been indicted by federal authorities for using H-1B visa workers to create an inexpensive "as needed" labor force.

The full scheme is outlined step-by-step in papers filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The indictment says that Dibon recruited foreign workers and sponsored them for H-1B visas to work at the firm's headquarters, but required them to provide consulting services to third-party companies located elsewhere. The company only paid the H-1B workers when they were placed at a third party company, "and only if the third party company actually paid Dibon first for the workers' services," it said. - ComputerWorld

03/07/2013: Introduction of the Revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is announcing the newly revised Employment Eligibility Verification form, Form I-9. Employers are required to use the Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization eligibility of their employees. The revisions to Form I-9 contain formatting changes and the inclusion of additional data fields. This notice contains the dates that employers should begin using the newly revised Form I-9 and announces the date that employers can no longer use prior versions of the forms. - USCIS

03/04/2013: New Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Process

Beginning March 4, certain immigrant visa applicants who are the spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens (immediate relatives), and have been unlawfully present in the United States, can start applying for provisional unlawful presence waivers through a new process. The new process is expected to shorten the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives while those family members go through the process of becoming lawful permanent residents of the United States. For eligibility details and information on the process, please visit USCIS.gov

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