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Immigration News - May and June of 2011

06/29/2011: CIS Ombudsman 2011 Annual Report to Congress

In this role, I have had the opportunity to interact with people from around the world who have immigrated, or are trying to immigrate, to the United States. They never cease to inspire me.The Ombudsman's Office has the responsibility for and privilege of helping.individuals, along with those who petition on their behalf, to navigate the citizenship and immigration process. On a one-on-one basis, we help resolve problems encountered by those seeking immigration benefits, and we make solution-oriented proposals to help improve the immigration benefits system. - DHS

06/29/2011: USCIS Quarterly National Stakeholder Engagement Q&A

USCIS addresses many questions with regard to case status system, CSPA, I-485 receipts, etc. - USCIS

06/29/2011: Green Card Lottery Results and Statistics

Green Card Lottery results and data, including total number of applicants and winners, as well as winning percentages by country, are recently compiled and added to the page linked above. Data cover DV-2007 to DV-2011.

06/26/2011: $90B Spent on Border Security, with Mixed Results

As Congress debates border funding and governors demand more aid to curb illegal immigration and other problems, government records show that taxpayers have spent $90 billion over 10 years to secure the US-Mexican border. For taxpayers footing these bills, the returns have been mixed: fewer illegal immigrants but little impact on the terrorism issue, and no stoppage of the drug supply, officials said. - Boston

06/26/2011: Georgia Hunts for Farmworkers As Tough Immigration Law Takes Hold

Georgia Republican Nathan Deal boasted of having backed (as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives) measures to bar undocumented immigrants from federal health care, and public colleges. He supported a bill that, starting July 1, will become one of America's most punitive state immigration laws. And now he has released a report indicating that Georgia's largest industry, agriculture, suddenly has 11,000 openings - which, he suggested, should be filled with some of the state's 100,000 ex-convicts, about 25% of whom are unemployed. - Time

06/25/2011: Indian Company Under Scrutiny Over U.S. Visas

Accusations that the company, Infosys Technologies, repeatedly violated the terms of business visitor visas were first raised in a lawsuit filed in February in Alabama by Jack Palmer, an Infosys project manager. Aside from Mr. Palmer, at least two other Infosys managers in the United States have submitted internal whistle-blower reports pointing to Indians on business visitor visas who were performing longer-term work not authorized under those visas, according to internal documents and current Infosys managers. - NY Times

06/23/2011: Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) Re-introduced

Today U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) John Kerry (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) re-introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill aimed at addressing the broken immigration system with tough, smart, and fair measures. - senate.gov

06/22/2011: ICE Prosecutorial Discretion Memo

This memorandum provides U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel guidance on the exercise·ofprosecutorial discretion to ensure that the agency's immigration enforcement resources are focused on the agency's enforcement priorities. The memorandum also serves to make clear which agency employees may exercise prosecutorial discretion and what factors should be considered. - ICE

06/22/2011: UC Davis Student Wins Last-Minute Deportation Reprieve

Immigration agents who planned to deport a UC Davis premedical student and her mother to India early Wednesday instead let the family remain in the United States temporarily. Over the weekend, friends and advocates launched a last-minute campaign to halt Mountain View resident Mandeep Chahal's deportation, which was scheduled for 1 a.m. Wednesday. The 20-year-old has lived in the Bay Area since she was 6 years old and is studying neurology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis. - Mercury News

06/22/2011: Pulitzer Winner: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant

"I'm done running. I'm exhausted. I don't want that life anymore.

So I've decided to come forward, own up to what I've done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection. I've reached out to former bosses and employers and apologized for misleading them - a mix of humiliation and liberation coming with each disclosure. All the people mentioned in this article gave me permission to use their names. I've also talked to family and friends about my situation and am working with legal counsel to review my options. I don't know what the consequences will be of telling my story." - NY Times

06/21/2011: ICE Arrests over 2,400 Convicted Criminal Aliens, Fugitives

As part of the Obama administration's ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens that threaten public and national security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced the results of a seven-day targeted "Cross Check" enforcement operation-which led to the arrest of more than 2,400 convicted criminal aliens and immigration fugitives in May of this year. Last week, ICE also announced key improvements to its Secure Communities program as the agency continues to focus its resources on those in our country illegally who have also broken criminal laws. - ICE

06/21/2011: Current PERM Processing Times

PERM Processing Times (6/20/2011)
Processing Types: Priority Dates being Adjudicated
Month Year
Analyst Reviews: April 2011
Audits: October 2010
Reconsideration Requests: November 2008
DOL Error Reconsiderations: Current

06/21/2011: FY 2012 H-1B Cap Count

As of June 17, 2011 USCIS has received 16,300 H-1B petition subject to the regular cap, and 10,800 that are counted toward the Master's Degree cap. Here is a log and graph showing all H-1B cap counts so far this year.

06/20/2011: Green Card Lottery Applicants File Lawsuit Against DOS

A lawsuit has been filed against the State Department alleging it unfairly denied 22,000 would-be legal immigrants the right to permanent residency in the United States, their lawyers said Monday. White and Associates said it filed the lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Colombia charging the State Department committed a "blunder" in holding a lottery granting them the permanent resident "green card." - AFP

06/17/2011: Chipotle Hires Former ICE Head for Immigration Probe

Chipotle Mexican Grill has hired a team of Washington legal A-listers to shore up its hiring and handle a federal criminal investigation stemming from the discovery of hundreds of illegal workers in its popular burrito restaurants. The Denver-based chain has been in hot water since audits by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned up large numbers of undocumented workers on payrolls in Minnesota, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Around the start of the year, Chipotle quietly brought in a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of ICE -- Julie Myers Wood, the director of the federal agency under President George W. Bush and now an immigration consultant. - Reuters

06/16/2011: More 'Silent Raids' Over Immigration

The Obama administration intensified a crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants, notifying another 1,000 companies in all 50 states Wednesday the government plans to inspect their hiring records. Businesses across the U.S. that rely on low-skilled labor are working to stave off Immigration and Customs Enforcement audits, which can lead to the loss of large numbers of employees, reduced productivity and legal expenses. - WSJ

06/13/2011: AILA To Provide Free Legal Consultations in San Diego

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will host a three hour pro bono session for area residents in need of legal advice regarding immigration concerns on Wednesday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m. More than 60 immigration attorneys will be available to answer questions and assess each participant's situation. The clinic will be held at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and cases will be handled on a first come first served basis.

AILA Pro-Bono Immigration Clinic
5:00-8:00 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
1155 Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

06/11/2011: Alabama Law Pressures Schools to Check Immigration Status

But Alabama's new law is actually much broader and much tougher than SB 1070--most notably for a provision that asks school administrators to check the immigration status of their students...

Muzaffar Chishti, who directs the Migration Policy Institute at NYU Law School, says he thinks that the parts of the Alabama law that mirror SB 1070 by asking local law enforcement to check immigration status of suspects will be likewise be blocked by a judge. Similar laws that deal with renting to illegal immigrants have been struck down, most recently by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, so that provision may be blocked as well. The schools provision may also bite the dust. - Yahoo

06/10/2011: July 2011 Visa Bulletin

Great news! Both India EB2 and China EB2 jumped nearly five months to March 8, 2007. This is the significant movement many people have been anxiously waiting for a couple of months. Good luck everyone! - More

06/08/2011: Photo Essay: Walking the Migrant Trail

From May 30 to June 5, I participated in the Migrant Trail Walk, a 75 mile walk from the U.S.-Mexico border to Tucson, Arizona, traversing the Altar Valley, one of the hottest stretches in the Sonoran desert during the summer months. This eighth annual walk was, as always, done in solidarity with the thousands upon thousands of migrants who cross into the United States clandestinely, and in remembrance of the thousands whose bodies have been recovered, many in the same vast desert where we walked. - Todd Miller

06/07/2011: Cruise Passengers Tell of Seven-hour Security 'Revenge' Nightmare

It was billed as a chance to taste the "glitz and glamour" of Hollywood or enjoy VIP treatment in some of the most exclusive shopping areas in the world. But when a group of 2,000 elderly British cruise ship passengers docked at Los Angeles for a short stop-off during a five-star cruise around America it was, in the words of one of them, more like arriving at Guantanamo Bay. - The Telegraph

06/07/2011: Supreme Court Allows CA to Grant In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrants

The high court rejects an appeal to California's policy of giving in-state college tuition to state high school graduates who are in the country illegally. The action leaves in place laws in 11 other states that permit illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition. - LA Times

06/06/2011: U.S. Green-Card Lottery Scrutinized After Blunder

The State Department's Inspector General is reviewing the government's green-card lottery after this year's results were scratched and thousands of people who had been told they won a chance for a U.S. resident visa were later notified they would have to re-enter the drawing.

Disappointed applicants, who hail from the Middle East, Africa and Europe, created a Facebook page dubbed "22,000 Tears" and began collecting signatures for letters to the State Department and U.S. lawmakers in protest. - WSJ

05/29/2011: Becoming an American: a Proud Canadian's Story

The one question that came up repeatedly since I started my U.S. naturalization process nine months ago was: why? Canada, my birthplace, is a great country. Why, I was asked, would I want to change my nationality? Why not just renew my green card? Why would I want to become a U.S. citizen - especially now - when America is losing influence in the world, and its economy is in shambles? - NPR

05/27/2011: USCIS Pending I-485 Inventory Released

USCIS today finally released new I-485 inventory, with data up to "June" 2011. The green card tracker has now been updated.

05/26/2011: B-1 in Lieu of H-1B Visa in Jeopardy

The "B-1 in lieu of H-1B" visa has been an important and legitimate source of flexibility facilitating the needs of global businesses and business travelers, with significant benefit to the United States economy. The April 14, 2011 letter from Senator Charles E. Grassley to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in light of the lawsuit against Infosys, may threaten the existence of this important category. We write to clarify its utility for American businesses in a globalized world, and strongly urge that the "B-1 in lieu of the H-1B" not be eliminated as this will undermine US competitiveness. - Cyrus D. Mehta

05/24/2011: Illegal Alien Apprehensions by Fiscal Year

U.S. Border Patrol released the statistics on apprehensions of illegal immigrants, which showed continued decline since 2005.

05/24/2011: USCIS Proposed Rule for Mandatory E-Filing

On April 8, 2011, the Office of Transformation Coordination (OTC) and the Office of Public Engagement (OPE) hosted a stakeholder engagement to discuss the development of a proposed rule that would mandate electronic filing, or e-filing. During the session, USCIS representatives provided an overview of the transformation initiative and discussed the purpose and objectives of requiring applications and petitions be electronically filed as well as addressed questions and concerns from stakeholders. - USCIS

05/23/2011: Changes to Iranian Student Visa Validity

Under our old visa policy, Iranian students and exchange visitors were eligible for visas that lasted for only three months and could be used to enter the country just one time. As of today, that has changed. They are now eligible for two-year, multiple entry visas. - DOS

05/23/2011: Federal Program Offers Investors Visas, a Lot of Risk

It's been billed as a way to get a green card "via the red carpet." Through the federal government's EB-5 investor visa program, wealthy would-be immigrants can sink $500,000 or $1 million into a U.S. project that generates jobs and in a few short years, emerge as lawful permanent residents of the United States. But the rapidly growing visa program is buyer beware. Some Texas companies sanctioned by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as "regional centers" - businesses approved to handle investments for EB-5 visa holders - have dubious track records or are engaged in questionable practices, a Houston Chronicle investigation found. - Chron

05/19/2011: USCIS Proposes Significant Enhancements to EB-5 Visa Processing

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today proposed significant enhancements to the administration of the USCIS Immigrant Investor Program, commonly referred to as the EB-5 Program-transforming the intake and review process for immigrant investors as part of the Obama administration's continued commitment to improve the legal immigration system and meet our economic and national security needs for the 21st century. The EB-5 Program makes 10,000 visas available annually to immigrant investors who invest in commercial enterprises that create at least 10 U.S. jobs. EB-5 investors may petition independently or as part of a USCIS-designated Regional Center. - USCIS

05/18/2011: USCIS Centralizes Filing of Form I-130

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that effective Aug. 15, 2011, petitioners residing in countries without USCIS offices will be able to file a Petition for an Alien Relative (Form I-130), with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility. This will increase the efficiency of the relative petition filing process and give USCIS more flexibility in managing its workload. Previous regulations permitted these petitioners, who comprise about 5 percent of all I-130 petitioners, to file with USCIS or the U.S. Department of State at their local U.S. embassy or consulate. - USCIS

05/18/2011: DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination Case

The Justice Department today reached a settlement agreement with the Maricopa County Community College District in Arizona, resolving allegations that the district engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against non-citizens in the hiring and employment-eligibility verification process. The district, which consists of 10 community colleges and two skill centers, has agreed to pay $45,760 in civil penalties and $22,123 in back pay to settle a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department on Aug. 30, 2010. - DOJ

05/16/2011: Silicon Valley Should Support DREAM Act

President Barack Obama knows his immigration reforms have no chance of passing this year, even though the need is great and his approach is sound. But there is still hope for the federal and state Dream Act legislation. - Mercury News

05/16/2011: Why America Needs Immigrants

There are signs, however, that the allure of America is fading. A new study by researchers at U.C. Berkeley, Duke and Harvard has found that, for the first time, a majority of American-trained entrepreneurs who have returned to India and China believe they are doing better at "home" than they would be doing in the U.S. The numbers weren't even close: 72% of Indians and 81% of Chinese said "economic opportunities" were superior in their native countries. - WSJ

05/15/2011: Tech Talents from India, Other Countries Leaving Silicon Valley

"For the first time, immigrants have better opportunities outside the U.S.," Wadhwa says. Indeed, nearly half of 264 immigrants surveyed by Wadhwa said they wanted to start companies back home. Silicon Valley may be the cradle for tech start-ups, but some foreign-born executives, engineers and scientists are leaving because of better opportunities back home, strict immigration laws here and California's steep cost of living. - USA Today

05/13/2011: DV-2012 Lottery Results Voided, Reslection to Begin Soon

In an unbelievable fashion, the Department of State annouced today that they have to redo the DV-2012 Green Card Lottery. Citing a computer glitch, DOS has now voided all previous results. Qualified entries for DV-2012 remain valid, but winners will be selected based on a new process. - DOS

05/13/2011: USCIS Launches I-9 Central

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today launched I-9 Central, a new online resource center dedicated to the most frequently accessed form on USCIS.gov: Form I-9, Employee Eligibility Verification. This free, easy-to-use website builds on recent employment-related enhancements by providing employers and employees simple one-click access to resources, tips and guidance to properly complete Form I-9 and better understand the Form I-9 process. - USCIS

05/12/2011: ICE Expands STEM List

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today published an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension-an important step forward in the Obama administration's continued commitment to fixing our broken immigration system and expanding access to the nation's pool of talented high skilled graduates in the science and technology fields. - ICE

05/12/2011: June 2011 Visa Bulletin

Both India and China EB2 advanced substantially - 3.5 months and 2.5 months, respectively - to October 15, 2006. For more details see: http://immigrationroad.com/blog/june-2011-visa-bulletin/

05/11/2011: Building a 21st Century Immigration System

Nearly every American family has their own immigration story. Generations of immigrants braved hardship and great risk to reach our shores in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Their names and actions may not have made it into history books, but they were essential to building this country. Indeed, this constant flow of immigrants has helped make America what it is today. The country they built is a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, a legacy that shapes the Administration's vision for a 21st century immigration system. - White House

05/11/2011: Immigration Myths and Facts

Despite the numerous studies and carefully detailed statistical reports outlining the positive effects of immigration, there is a great deal of misinformation about the impact of immigration. It is critical that policymakers and the public are educated about the facts behind these fallacies. - U.S. Chamber of Commerce

05/10/2011: DOJ and DOE Open Letter: All Children Have Right to Public Education

Under Federal law, State and local educational agencies (hereinafter "districts") are required to provide all children with equal access to public education at the elementary and secondary level. Recently, we have become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their parents' or guardians' actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status. These practices contravene Federal law. Both the United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Education (Departments) write to remind you of the Federal obligation to provide equal educational opportunities to all children residing within your district and to offer our assistance in ensuring that you comply with the law. - Open Letter & Q&A

05/09/2011: Visa Bulletin Mailing List Hacked?

A visa bulletin email we received from DOS contained an advertisement for cheap and quick online degrees, an obvious scam! We're not sure if their system was hacked. But if you received a similar email, do NOT click on the link or reply to it.

05/06/2011: Update on Immigration Applications and Petitions

Major volumes of pending applications at the end of March 2011:

  • 483,373 I-130 immediate/all other petitions;
  • 395,760 I-485 applications to adjust status;
  • 267,088 I-90 green card renewals/replacements;
  • 133,695 I-765 employment authorizations;
  • 82,368 I-751 remove conditions spouse jointly/waive;
  • 58,826 I-131 travel document/advance parole;
  • 41,469 I-129 forms filed.

Major receipt volumes in March 2011:

  • 87,358 I-90 green card renewals/replacements;
  • 79,788 I-765 employment authorizations;
  • 74,255 I-130 immediate/all other petitions;
  • 48,260 I-485 applications to adjust status;
  • 33,160 I-131 travel document/advance parole;
  • 24,786 I-129 forms filed.

05/06/2011: Does This Green Card Make Me Look Fat

Within 15 years of moving to the States, research has shown that immigrants approach American levels of obesity - a finding previously linked to the ubiquity of cheap, high-calorie fast food and larger portion sizes.

But investigators now suggest it's not simply the presence of such dishes but also immigrants' notion that eating them somehow validates their "Americanness." - Vancouver Sun

05/03/2011: Bay Area University President Indicted for Student Visa Fraud Scheme

Tri-Valley University President Susan Xiao-Ping Su, 41, who also served as the school's chief executive officer, is accused of engaging in a two-year scheme to defraud the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by submitting phony documents in support of Tri-Valley University's applications to admit foreign nationals on student visas. The indictment further alleges that after obtaining such approvals, Su fraudulently issued visa-related documents to student aliens in exchange for "tuition and fees."

Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Su must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.- ICE

05/02/2011: DOS Key Officers at Foreign Service Posts

A long list of U.S. embassies and consulates, completed with addresses, phone numbers, business hours and officers' names. - DOS Unclassified Publication

05/02/2011: Delivery of Immigration Documents through Secure Mail Initiative

Made possible by a partnership between USCIS and the USPS, the SMI enables USCIS to confirm delivery of permanent resident cards and documents pertaining to travel and employment authorization. With USPS tracking information, USCIS customers can easily stay up-to-date on the delivery status of their documents and USCIS can confirm that these essential documents were delivered to the proper address. - USCIS

05/01/2011: World Wide Travel Alert for U.S. Citizens

The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan. Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. This Travel Alert expires August 1, 2011. - DOS

05/01/2011: Osama bin Laden Killed in Pakistan by U.S. Forces

Osama bin Laden, the Saudi extremist whose al-Qaida terrorist organization killed more than 3,000 people in coordinated attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, is dead following a military operation in Pakistan and the U.S. has recovered his body, U.S. President Barack Obama announced Sunday night. - MSNBC

U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world were placed on high alert following the announcement of bin Laden's death, a senior U.S. official said, and the U.S. State Department should be sending out a new "worldwide caution" for Americans shortly. Some fear al Qaeda supporters may try to retaliate against U.S. citizens or U.S. institutions. - CNN

05/01/2011: Diversity Visa (DV) Lotter 2012 Status Check Now Open

The green card lottery (DV-2012) status check system is now open, and will be closed on June 30, 2012. This is the ONLY way to check whether you've been selected. If you won the lottery, instructions on the next steps to complete your application will also be provided on the website. Starting this year, the Deparment of State's Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) will no longer notify lottery winners by mail. You must have the information from your entry confirmation page to use the status check system. - DOS

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