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Immigration News - May and June of 2012

06/27/2012: Can Non-Immigrant Work from Home for a Foreign Employer?

A very interesting debate from Angelo A. Paparelli's blog:

"May a foreign national without work-authorized visa status to work remotely from a home located in the United States for an employer located abroad? This question lies squarely at the intersection of immigration & tax law, and the short answer is no, except for nonimmigrants in the F-1 (Academic Students), J-1 (Exchange Visitors) & Q (Cultural Exchange Participants) visa categories."

06/25/2012: Arizona Supreme Court Decision: A Mixed Bag for Obama

The Supreme Court's decision on Monday to throw out most of Arizona's immigration law has multiple political upsides for President Obama: The nature of the ruling could mobilize Latinos, a traditionally Democratic voting bloc, and it gives some validation to Mr. Obama's recent deportation policy change. The court ruling also has one glaring downside for the president: It underscores his failure to keep his promise and pass comprehensive immigration reform, even when he enjoyed Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate. - CBS

06/25/2012: Tech Company to Pay More Than $740,000 in Back Wages to 73 H-1B Workers

An investigation conducted by the division's Atlanta District Office determined that Semafor Technologies failed to pay 54 foreign H-1B guest workers for periods of time during which they were nonproductive because the company did not assign any work. Additionally, five workers were not reimbursed for various processing fees related to their employment, and 14 were not reimbursed for processing fees or paid for periods without assigned work. - DOL

06/22/2012: Romney's Promises to Ease the Path to a Green Card

ROMNEY: "As president, I'd reallocate green cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof. And we will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents. And we will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from being together." He added: "And if you get an advanced degree here, we want you to stay here. So I'd staple a green card to the diploma of someone who gets an advanced degree in America." - U.S. News

06/22/2012: Senator Grassley Proposing New H-1B Enforcement to Lift Hold on H.R. 3012

AILA reported On 6/22/12 that in ongoing negotiations between key Senators to try and move H.R. 3012, Senator Grassley has proposed new H-1B enforcement language that if agreed to would allow him to lift his objections to the underlying measure and would be incorporated into a new Senate version of H.R. 3012. AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12062243.

06/21/2012: Immigrants Hoping to Qualify for Obama Program Urged to Gather Data

Immigrant rights advocates barely had time to digest the Obama administration's announcement last week that it would stop deporting some young immigrants when the questions started flowing in: Am I the right age? Does an arrest disqualify me? Do my parents qualify? "We've been celebrating all weekend," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday. "We've now got to get ready. We've got to prepare the documents." - LA Times

06/21/2012: New Prevailing Wage FAQs from DOL

The Department of Labor has posted new and revised FAQs for the prevailing wage program. Topics include occupation-specific issues, the documentation of an affiliated or related nonprofit entity, and the issuance of hourly wages. These FAQs are available here and on the FAQs page of the OFLC website under the heading Prevailing Wage (PERM, H-2B, H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3).

06/21/2012: The Hard Path to Citizenship

Last week President Obama ordered Homeland Security to stop deporting young undocumented immigrants. The order essentially enacts part of the DREAM act which has been mired in debate on Capitol Hill. Now immigrants under 30 canstay and work, but they don't get a Green Card, which is necessary to join the military or get on the road to citizenship. I would make one big exception to that rule for any of those immigrants who join the military. Anyone who's willing to take the oath of enlistment deserves a shot at citizenship. - Time

06/21/2012: Changes to E-1, E-2 Visa Processing in Mexico

U.S. consular operations in Mexico rank number four worldwide in issuance of Investor and Treaty Trader visas. This is a critical program to stimulate foreign direct investment in the United States. To more efficiently process visas for investors and traders, the U.S. Mission in Mexico announces two changes in the procedures for applying for and renewing Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas. -

06/18/2012: Obama's Immigration Move Wins Support in Battleground States

President Obama's decision to extend administrative relief to an estimated 800,000 young illegal immigrants has won favor with Latino voters in key battleground states, according to a new poll. - NYT

Meanwhile....

Romney talked to CBS News chief Washington correspondent and "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer Saturday for Sunday's "Face the Nation," and refused to answer Schieffer's repeated and persistent questions about whether he would keep the policy if Congress didn't act. - CBS

06/16/2012: Remarks by the President on Immigration

This morning, Secretary Napolitano announced new actions my administration will take to mend our nation's immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just -- specifically for certain young people sometimes called "Dreamers." - The White House

06/15/2012: Deferred Action Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities

Huge Win for DREAMers!

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization. - DHS

Deferred Action Process: Frequently Asked Questions - ICE

More details will be published by USCIS and ICE in the coming weeks with regard to the implementation of this new process. Beginning June 18, individuals may call the USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283, from 8am to 8pm, or the ICE hotline at 1-888-351-4024, from 9am to 5pm, with questions or to request more information.

Basic eligibility criteria:

  • Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
  • Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  • Not be above the age of 30.

06/14/2012: Boom in Immigrant Small Business Owners in NYC: Report

Foreign-born owners of small business in the New York metropolitan area grew by 66% between 1990 and 2010, according to a Fiscal Policy Institute report released Thursday. That 36% means New York has the third highest number of overseas-born small business owners when compared to 24 other large U.S. metropolitan areas. Miami – where immigrants represent 45% of small businesses owners – tops the list, followed by Los Angeles with 44%. - WSJ

06/11/2012: FY-2013 H-1B Cap Reached

On June 11, 2012, USCIS received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the statutory cap for FY 2013. On June 7, 2012, USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject petitions subject to the cap for H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY 2013 that are received after June 11, 2012.

USCIS continues to accept petitions exempted from the cap and DOD cooperative research worker H-1B petitions and Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2013.

06/11/2012: July 2012 Visa Bulletin Released

The July 2012 Visa Bulletin was released today. EB2 ROW (all countries other than those listed separately in visa bulletin) is now oversubscribed, with a cut-off date set for 2009-01-01. EB2 ROW has been current almost forever (except briefly during 2007), so the three-year retrogression would no doubt appear shocking to a lot of people. DOS warned that it may be necessary to make this category completely "unavailable" should heavy demand further increases.

China and India EB2, already "unavailable", will remain so for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on 9/30/2012.

06/08/2012: Immigration Has Decreased Crime, Upped Home Values in SoCal

A new study of Southern California trends to be released next week shows immigration has meant less crime and stable home values in the region. The finding is one of many from a new University of California Irvine report. - KPCC

06/08/2012: Demand Data for July Visa Bulletin

With the release of demand data, the official July Visa Bulletin is likely to be out in a couple of days.

06/07/2012: USCIS Memo on Submission of Form I-20 or DS-2019 while E-filing I-539

USCIS is transforming its business processes and systems to improve operational efficiency and customer service, and to strengthen the security and integrity of the immigration system. As part of this effort, USCIS is modifying its data collection practices to eventually convert all data collections to e-filing in the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). The intent of this change is to improve the consistency and timeliness of benefit adjudications, as well as to support identity management, benefit eligibility evaluation, customer service operations, and to better manage national security and benefit risks. As a result, USCIS will eliminate the requirement that the Form I-20 or DS-2019 contain original signatures. - USCIS

06/07/2012: USCIS Memo on Requests to Expedite Adjudication of Form I-601

This PM updates the AFM to reflect a change in the filing and adjudication location of Forms I-601 for most individuals who are outside the United States. Effective June 4, 2012, individuals outside the United States generally will be required to file their waiver applications with a USCIS Lockbox. During a six-month transition period, individuals residing in Mexico will have the option to file their waiver applications with the USCIS Ciudad Juarez Field Office (CDJ) or to mail them to the USCIS Lockbox. The grounds for granting a request to expedite processing of a Form I-601 have not changed. However, certain procedural guidelines are changed to reflect the new requirements for domestic filing of the applications. - USCIS

06/06/2012: Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students

Undocumented immigrants face tremendous difficulties when seeking a higher education. The imposition of out-of-state tuition fees effectively keeps them out of college in most of the United States. In 14 states, in-state tuition laws allow these students to pay lower fees and, in a few cases, access state financial aid. However, even in these 14 states, undocumented students, their families and educators face several difficulties when trying to access information on admission policies, financial aid and scholarships, as well as on support organizations. - College Board

06/05/2012: (Incorrect) Report of Lifted Grassley "Hold" on H.R.3012

There was a story at politico.com on June 3rd that abruptly mentioned that "Grassley only recently lifted a hold on a bill by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) that would eliminate the employment-based per-country visa cap." A few Websites picked up the report, and assumed (understandably) that Mr. Grassley already lifted his hold on H.R. 3012. This is incorrect. As of today, the Government Printing Office still shows "Notice of Intent to Object" on this bill by Grassley. In addition, there has been no official releases on this matter by anybody in recent weeks.

06/05/2012: US-VISIT Could soon be Part of ICE

If Congress approves next year's budget and confirms the transfer, ICE would take over the US-VISIT overstay analysis program in support of the agency's responsibility for interior immigration enforcement. CBP would assume responsibility for most of US-VISIT's core operations, including management of the biometric and biographic information storage and matching and watch list services. As currently proposed, ICE would receive $17.6 million and 78 positions CBP would receive $261.5 million and 351 positions. - ICE

06/04/2012: Debate over State Department's Summer Work Travel Program

The State Department program, know as Summer Work Travel, was created in 1961 to promote cultural exchanges between Americans and international citizens by issuing temporary J-1 visas for college students to work in the United States during school vacations. Students from around the world pay several thousand dollars apiece to private organizations — authorized by the State Department — that help them find temporary US jobs. - Boston.com

06/04/2012: USCIS FY-2013 H-1B Cap Count Update

As of 06/01, USCIS has received 55,600 petitions toward the regular cap, and 18,700 advanced degree exemption cap. At this pace, the Master's degree cap could be reached as early as next week, with the regular cap a week later.

06/03/2012: Immigrants' List - Local Hall of Shame 2012

This week, Immigrants' List unveiled the inductees into its second annual Local Hall of Shame. This is a list focused exclusively on the ten worst anti-immigrant local politicians in America. These are politicians who have benefited politically from spreading fear and misinformation about immigration, and have enacted harmful policies that are hurting local economies and hurting families.

05/30/2012: USCIS Annual Report - Characteristics of H-1B Workers for FY-2011

  • The number of H-1B petitions filed increased eight percent from 247,617 in FY 2010 to 267,654 in FY 2011.
  • The number of H-1B petitions approved increased almost 40 percent from 192,990 in FY 2010 to 269,653 in FY 2011.
  • Approximately 58 percent of all H-1B petitions approved in FY 2011 were for workers born in India.
  • Over two-thirds of H-1B petitions approved in FY 2011 were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34.
  • Forty-one percent of H-1B petitions approved in FY 2011 were for workers with a bachelor's degree, forty-two percent had a master's degree, eleven percent had a doctorate, and 5 percent were for workers with a professional degree.
  • About 51 percent of H-1B petitions approved in FY 2011 were for workers in computerrelated occupations.
  • The median salary of beneficiaries of approved petitions increased to $70,000 in FY 2011, $2,000 more than in FY 2010.

05/30/2012: Process for Responding to DOS Requests to Accept a Locally Filed Form I-130

Historically, DOS consular officers have processed Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative filed outside the United States where USCIS does not have a presence. Based on recent discussions with DOS, USCIS has determined that it is more cost-effective for USCIS to adjudicate all I-130s with certain limited exceptions. The current instructions for the Form I-130 generally require a petitioner who resides outside the Unites States to file the I-130 by mail with a USCIS domestic lockbox. The petitioner is allowed to file the I-130 with an international USCIS office if the petitioner lives in a country where USCIS has an international field office and prefers to file with that office. Fileing the I-130 with DOS at an Embassy or Consular is permitted only in "exceptional circumstances." It is the Field Office Director (FOD) of the international USCIS office with jurisdiction over the place of residence who has authority to determine whether to allow the petitioner to file the I-130 at the Embassy or Consulate. DOS cannot accept an I-130 without prior approval to do so from the USCIS FOD. - USCIS Memo

05/30/2012: USCIS FY-2013 H-1B Cap Count Update

As of 5/25, USCIS has received 48,400 petitions toward the regular cap, and 17,500 advanced degree exemption cap.

05/29/2012: Green Card Tracker Updated with Consular Processing Data

Recently we added pending Consular Processing cases to the Green Card Tracker, in order to show a person's total place in line rather than just I-485 AOS applications. Over the past weekend we started changing the number 15% (the overall percentage of CP cases in total number of green cards issued) to a more accurate ratio calculated from USCIS and DOS data. Please follow the link above to see exactly how the ratios are calculated, as some results are pretty shocking.

05/25/2012: USCIS ELIS Instructions

USCIS has published instructions for requesting benefits using ELIS - Electronic Immigration System.

05/23/2012: Temporary Delay in Issuance of I-129 Receipt Notices

USCIS Email Communication: "Due to the high number of recently filed I-129 petitions with USCIS, customers may experience a longer than usual period of time to receive a receipt notice from USCIS. Usually, customers can expect to receive their receipt notice within 30 days of delivery confirmation. However, due to an unexpectedly high volume of I-129 petitions, it may be an additional two to four weeks before customers receive a receipt notice. Customers who do not receive notification of receipt of an I-129 petition within 60 days of their delivery confirmation date may contact the appropriate Service Center via the email addresses listed on our Contact Us Web page. This is a temporary situation and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

05/23/2012: Biometric Data Collection in U.S. Immigrant Communities and Beyond

The collection of biometrics - such as fingerprints, DNA, and face recognition-ready photographs - is becoming more and more a part of the society in which we live, especially for immigrants. As of January 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been working with several states to collect face recognition-ready photographs of all suspects arrested and booked. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) collects approximately 300,000 fingerprints per day from non-U.S. citizens crossing U.S. borders. State and local law-enforcement agencies are quickly adopting and expanding several biometrics databases to collect much more information, including face prints, iris scans, and even DNA records. Undocumented people living within the United States, as well as immigrant communities more broadly, are more immediately and uniquely affected by the expansion of biometrics collection programs than the rest of society. - Immigration Policy Center

05/22/2012: USCIS Launches Online Immigration System, USCIS ELIS

In this initial release, certain applicants can electronically file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Over time, USCIS ELIS will include more benefit types and increased functions. - USCIS

05/22/2012: Total Number of Green Cards Issued by Preference Category

We've added more statistics (from the State Department) that should compliment the pending I-485 inventories: Total number of green cards issued per year per category. These are rather old data, but still good for references nonetheless. They are in a format that now matches visa bulletins, so should be easier for analysis and comparison purposes. We will be including these data in the Green Card Tracker tool in the future.

05/21/2012: USCIS to Launch New Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) Tomorrow

According to email communication from USCIS: "On Tuesday May 22, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will launch the initial release of its new electronic immigration system, USCIS ELIS. USCIS ELIS is the agency's first-ever online immigration system created to modernize the process for both filing and adjudicating immigration benefits. The first release, which is available for certain students and visitors, lays the foundation for the Web-based future of USCIS and our immigration system."

05/18/2012: Two Arrested in Slayings of USC Students

Los Angeles police Friday afternoon arrested the man suspected of fatally shooting two USC students from China in a botched robbery and a second man believed to have some involvement in the killings, several LAPD sources said. The man suspected of being the killer in the case that has garnered international attention and turned a harsh spotlight on the elite campus set among some of the city's roughest neighborhoods was taken into custody about 4 p.m. - LA Times

05/16/2012: Lawmakers Want High-Tech Foreigners to Stay in the U.S.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the SMART Jobs Act, which stands for "Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology," on Wednesday. If passed, the bill would create the F-4 non-immigrant visa, which allow foreigners working on advanced degrees in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering or math — to stay in the U.S. for up to 12 months after graduation while they search for employment in the country. Should such a person find (or create for themselves) a job during that period, they can swap their student visa for a "STEM green card." That card wouldn't count against a country's green card quota (the U.S. tightly manages how many foreigners are granted green cards on a per-country basis). - Mashable

05/14/2012: USCIS FY-2013 H-1B Cap Count Update

As of 5/11, USCIS has received 36,700 petitions toward the regular cap, and 14,800 advanced degree exemption cap.

05/11/2012: Facebook Co-Founder Saverin Gives up U.S. Citizenship Before IPO

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB), renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.

Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship ahead of a possible increase in tax rates for top earners. The Brazilian-born resident of Singapore is one of several people who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook in a Harvard University dormitory and stand to reap billions of dollars after the world's largest social network holds its IPO. - Bloomberg

05/11/2012: DOJ Sues Sheriff Joseph Arpaio

The Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit in federal court today against Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio, arising from unconstitutional and unlawful actions by the defendants. - DOJ

05/11/2012: DHS Announces Expanded List of STEM Degree Programs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) designated-degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an optional practical training (OPT) extension. This announcement builds on a series of administrative reforms designed to further the Department's commitment to attracting international students. - DHS

05/09/2012: Green Card Tracker Updated with New Pending I-485 Inventory

USCIS released new pending I-485 inventory today, with data up to May 3, 2012. We've updated the Green Card Tracker with the new data. The total number of EB-2 cases for both China and India showed a sharp increase, as a result of heavy new filings earlier this year.

05/09/2012: June 2012 Visa Bulletin Released

The June 2012 Visa Bulletin was released today showing "Unavailable" for India and China EB-2. This means both categories have consumed all visa numbers for the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2012. New visas will be made available for EB2 India and China beginning October 1, 2012. The Visa Office cited huge increases in EB3 to EB2 upgrade for such move. USCIS will continue to accept new I-485 filings throughout the month of May based on the existing cutoff date (2007-8-15).

Here is what the Visa Office has to say:

"Despite the retrogression of the China and India Employment Second preference cut-off date to August 15, 2007, demand for numbers by applicants with priority dates earlier than that date remained excessive. Such demand is primarily based on cases which had originally been filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for adjustment of status in the Employment Third preference category, and are now eligible to be upgraded to Employment Second preference status. The potential amount of such "upgrade" demand is not currently being reported, but it was evident that the continued availability of Employment Second preference numbers for countries other than China and India was being jeopardized. Therefore, it was necessary to make the China and India Employment Second preference category "Unavailable" in early April, and it will remain so for the remainder of FY-2012."

05/08/2012: Strengthening and Reforming the Summer Work Travel Program

The Summer Work Travel program is a long-standing people-to-people diplomacy program that engages young people from around the world with a goal of fostering mutual understanding. Following a Department-wide review of the program, we have taken important steps to install better safeguards to protect American workers and ensure the health and safety of program participants. - DOS

05/08/2012: State Department Revises Foreign Student Job Program After Abuse Complaints

The State Department, responding to a wave of complaints from foreign students about abuses under a summer cultural exchange program, issued new rules on Friday significantly revising the types of jobs the students can do, prohibiting them from most warehouse, construction, manufacturing and food-processing work. - NY Times

05/08/2012: Visa Demand Data Used for June 2012 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State has released demand data used to determine cutoff dates for the June 2012 Visa Bulletin. The official visa bulletin should be published in the next day or two.

05/08/2012: Special Notice to Green Card Lottery DV-2013 Entrants

DV 2013 Entrants: Please keep your confirmation number until at least September 2013, even if you are not selected on May 1, 2012. The Department of State may select more DV 2013 entries on October 1, 2012.

DV 2013 Program: Entrants in the Diversity Visa 2013 program may check the status of their entries through Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website beginning on May 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013. Please remember to keep your confirmation, since more DV 2013 entrants may be selected on October 1, 2012. If you have lost your confirmation information, you will not be able to check your DV entry status. We will not be able to resend the confirmation page information to you. - DOS

05/07/2012: USCIS to Merge Customer Service and Public Engagement Divisions

"In addition, effective today, we are realigning our organizational structure to roll our Office of Public Engagement into a newly-named operational directorate, the Customer Service and Public Engagement (CSPE) Directorate. This merger integrates equities critical to building a new customer service architecture, increasing access to agency information and services, promoting transparency and ensuring that the customer and stakeholder loop is seamless. Mariela Melero, our current Chief of the Office of Public Engagement, will be the new Associate Director leading CSPE." - USCIS

05/03/2012: Step-by-Step DS-160 Instructions

The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamica has published a step-by-step guide to fill out Form DS-160, Electronic Visa Application Form.

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