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Immigration News - September and October of 2009

10/28/2009: Slump Sinks Visa Program

The program, known as H-1B, has been a mainstay of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, where many companies have come to depend on securing visas for computer programmers from India or engineers from China. Last year, even as the recession began to bite, employers snapped up the 65,000 visas available in just one day. This year, however, as of Sept. 25 -- nearly six months after the U.S. government began accepting applications -- only 46,700 petitions had been filed. - Wall Street Journal

10/27/2009: Flu.gov

The flu season is upon us and the new H1N1 flu has made everybody a little nervous this year. The U.S. government has published a website (flu.gov) to address many concerns people may have, providing comprehensive information on flu shot availability and important facts about the flu in general. Check it out.

10/26/2009: Wife of Iraq War Veteran Faces Deportation

But as he undergoes counseling and swallows anti-depressants, the soldier is fighting an even bigger battle: to keep his family from collapsing as his wife, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, faces deportation. - LA Times

10/24/2009: Google Co-Founder Aids Charity That Aided Him

Were it not for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, there might be no Google. Thirty years ago today, Sergey Brin, a 6-year-old Soviet boy facing an uncertain future, arrived in the United States with the help of the society. Now Mr. Brin, the billionaire co-founder of Google, is giving $1 million to the society, widely known as HIAS, which helped his family escape anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and establish itself here. - NY Times

10/23/2009: CBP Creates Electronic Reading Room

U.S. Customs and Border Protection today launched improvements in Web-based technology designed to increase public access to agency records and documents. The upgraded CBP Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room will feature records and documents formerly only available through FOIA request. Documents and records responding to certain FOIA requests are now available at foia.cbp.gov. - News Release

10/23/2009: DOL Scheduled to Centralize Prevailing Wage Determinations in 2010

The Department of Labor (DOL) is moving ahead with its plans to centralize prevailing wage processing. The agency is scheduled to open its prevailing wage center in Washington, DC and begin centralized processing of several additional case types on January 1. 2010. The processing of prevailing wage determinations for the permanent labor certification program and for the H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 nonimmigrant programs will be included in the January transition. - Fragomen

10/23/2009: USCIS Update on Pending Cases

Major volumes of pending applications at the end of August 2009 include: 1,025,870 I-130 immediate/all other petitions; 471,222 I-485 applications to adjust status; 110,984 I-90 green card renewals/replacements; 102,989 I-765 employment authorizations 82,847 I-751 remove conditions spouse jointly/waive; 48,168 I-129 forms filed.

The number of pending N-400 cases reached 248,873 in August 2009, a decrease of 58 percent compared to the same month in fiscal year 2008.

10/20/2009: CNN's Latino Special Avoids Dobbs

CNN is airing a four-hour special on Latinos in America this week that ignores its own commentator Lou Dobbs, whose persistent advocacy against illegal immigration has angered many Hispanics...Dobbs has said he's not singling out an ethnic group for criticism. But his strong crusade for tightening the nation's southern borders and punishing illegal aliens has made many Latinos dislike him, particularly when he concentrates upon social ills brought on by immigrants. Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera said Dobbs "has done more to slander Latin people in America than any other single human being." - AP

10/19/2009: It's Crazy to Drive Away Talented Young Scholars!

Of the nine people who shared this year's Nobel Prizes in chemistry, physics and medicine, eight are American citizens, a testament to this country's support for pioneering research. But those numbers disguise a more important story. Four of the American winners were born outside of the United States and only came here as graduate or post-doctoral students or as scientists. They came because our system of higher education and advanced research has been a magnet for creative talent.

Unfortunately, we cannot count on that magnetism to last. Culturally, we remain a very open society. But that openness stands in sharp contrast to arcane U.S. immigration policies that discourage young scholars from settling in the U.S. - Susan Hockfield, MIT President

10/17/2009: Happy Diwali!

10/15/2009: General Dynamics to Develop New EAD Cards for USCIS

General Dynamics Information Technology, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), has been awarded an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract by U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to develop secure credentials for immigrants seeking employment within the United States. The contract has an initial value of $1 million and a maximum potential value of $22 million over five years if all options are exercised. - Reuters

10/14/2009: Judge Ruled Against Immigrants' Children Who Aged Out

A federal judge has ruled that adult children who turn 21 while waiting for family-sponsored green cards have to wait anew once they "age out" of their parents' applications. - Washington Post

10/13/2009: Gutierrez Outlines Core Principles for a New CIR Bill

At a rally today on the west lawn of the United States Capitol, U.S. Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) addressed a crowd of thousands who demanded change to our nation's broken immigration system. Rep. Gutierrez' address responded to a recent call from the immigration advocacy community to introduce comprehensive immigration reform in the House of Representatives. - Press Release

10/13/2009: Fiscal Year 2010 Refugee Admissions Numbers

The admission of up to 80,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest; provided that this number shall be understood as including persons admitted to the United States during FY 2010 with Federal refugee resettlement assistance under the Amerasian immigrant admissions program, as provided below. - Federal Register

10/09/2009: November 2009 Visa Bulletin

Employment Preference Visa Availability: The receipt of demand from Citizenship and Immigration Services Offices has far exceeded their earlier indications of cases eligible for immediate processing. As a result, it has been necessary to hold most of the Employment cut-off dates for November. At this time, it is not possible to provide any estimates regarding future cut-off date movements.

10/08/2009: USCIS Response to Ombudsman Regarding Motions to Reopen or Reconsider

Currently, Motions to Reopen or Reconsider that are filed at a Service Center are receipted just like any other application or petition. As a result, customers can track such motions via USCIS' website, particularly the Case Status Online function. Because Field Offices do not have the same system capabilities as our Service Centers, motions filed at Field Offices are not receipted and may not be tracked via our Case Status Online function. As an interim solution, however, customers may contact the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to ask about the status of a motion filed at a Field Office if the motion is outside normal processing times. - USCIS Response

10/07/2009: Panel Recommends Higher Priority for Employment-Based Immigration

Family unification should remain a bedrock principle of U.S. immigration policy, but we believe that "family" must be narrowed to mean nuclear family members. We must also recognize that in today's increasingly competitive and technology-intensive global economy, educated workers with the knowledge and skills to innovate are critical. Therefore, we recommend increasing skilled visas and replacing per-country limits on skilled visas with a single overall limit. At the same time, we recommend holding constant, at least for the present, the overall number of permanent legal residents admitted annually. - Brookings

10/06/2009: DV-2011 Green Card Lottery Registration

This public notice provides information on how to apply for the DV-2011 Program. - Federal Register

10/06/2009: DOS Final Rule on R-1 Nonimmigrant Visa

To comply with the Department of Homeland Security regulation requiring sponsoring employers to file petitions for all aliens for whom R-1 nonimmigrant status is sought. This rule establishes the requirement that consular officers ensure that R-1 visa applicants have obtained an approved U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-129 petition from the Department of Homeland Security before issuance of a visa.Federal Register

10/02/2009: America's High-Tech Sweatshops

Vimal Patel was studying for a master's in business administration in London when he saw an advertisement for work in the U.S. The ad offered a job in the tech industry, as well as sponsorship for the kind of work visa that allows foreign nationals to take professional-level jobs in the country. So Patel applied and paid his prospective employer, Cygate Software & Consulting, in Edison, N.J., thousands of dollars in up-front fees. But when Patel arrived, Cygate had no tech job for him. He ended up working at a gas station, and Cygate nevertheless took a chunk of his wages for years, according to documents in a criminal case against Cygate. - BusinessWeek

10/02/2009: "I left the country by an inch!"

All it took was a wrong turn for Jorge-Alonso Chehade to face deportation. But that wrong turn also brought him attention and praise from Washington state's congressional delegation, pro bono attorneys and maybe, just maybe, a chance to stay in the United States. - AP

10/02/2009: Bill to Shut Down DV Program and Move Visas to EB Categories

H.R. 3687 Bill was introduced to eliminate the diversity immigrant program and to re-allocate those visas to certain employment based immigrants who obtain an advanced degree in the United States.

10/02/2009: New Form G-28 for Attorneys or Accredited Representatives

USCIS will provide a 30-day grace period for the Form G-28, until Oct. 30, so that Forms G-28 currently in the mail will be considered valid when received at the USCIS Lockbox facility or USCIS Service Center. After Oct. 30, any prior versions of the Form G-28 that are received will be considered invalid. All Forms G-28 filed before Oct. 30, will be honored for previously filed cases as long as the Forms G-28 were properly completed by an eligible attorney or accredited representative. The new Form G-28 is not required for receiving updates or interviews unless a new attorney is representing the applicant. - Announcement

10/01/2009: DOJ Grants to Fight Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination

The Justice Department today announced that it has awarded $723,000 in grants to twelve groups serving communities throughout the country, to conduct public education programs for workers and employers about federal protections against immigration-related job discrimination. - DOJ

09/29/2009: Green Card Lottery DV-2011 Instructions

The Department of State just published instructions for the DV-2011 program. Online entry registration period for DV-2011 is between October 2, 2009, and November 30, 2009.

09/27/2009: Missed Court Date, Minneapolis Woman Faces Deportation

Hoa Nguyen, of Minneapolis, is in jail, set to be sent back to Vietnam despite being married to a U.S. citizen ... Nguyen, 29, came here from Vietnam on a student visa 10 years ago, earned a bachelor's degree at Luther College and a master's degree at the University of Minnesota, got married and made a life in Minneapolis. But she failed to file for a green card and missed a court date in August; she was jailed in Sherburne County. - Star Tribune

09/25/2009: USCIS.gov Website Redesign Q&A

USCIS answers questions regarding the new website. Future website enhancements:

  • More instructional and informational content via multimedia
  • Simplified internet addresses for the most used topic areas (hopefully USCIS will implement page redirect so that thousands of links to the old addresses still work)
  • Continual improvement of Spanish-language website
  • The ability to sign up for news feeds regarding specific topics of interest
  • Continued transparency of USCIS operations by making publicly available data accessible through the website
  • Improved ability to navigate to and search for forms
  • The use of online surveys, focus groups, and other feedback mechanisms to solicit input regarding current site performance, content, and features

09/24/2009: Pending Employment-Based Form I-485 Inventory

How can I determine my place in line based on my priority date? Can you tell me when I will get a visa? How do I know how many applicants from my country have an earlier priority date than mine? USCIS answers these questions here.

09/24/2009: Immigration Officials Consider More Fee Increases

U.S. immigration officials are considering another possible round of fee increases and budget cuts next year, prompting concern among immigrant rights groups. Alejandro Mayorkas, the new director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said during a visit to Los Angeles on Wednesday that "financial challenges" have caused the agency to consider potential fee increases but no decision has been made. The agency is facing a $118-million revenue shortfall this year in part because applications for citizenship and skilled worker visas are below projections, according to officials. - LA Times

09/24/2009: Two Arrested in Attempt to Crash Border

Two Mexican men were arrested on federal human-trafficking charges Wednesday, a day after officials said three vans in which they were riding with scores of other Mexicans tried to run through the border station at San Diego. The attempted border-running, which led immigration and customs agents to fire on the vans, caused the authorities to close down the station - the busiest land crossing into the United States - for about four hours. - NY Times

09/23/2009: Grandmother Gets 44 months in Green-Card Scam

A Texas grandmother who acknowledged running a scheme in which her family members married scores of foreigners seeking to stay in the United States was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in prison ...... Federal prosecutors say Camarillo arranged green card marriages for more than two decades. She recruited her children, nieces, nephews and even her three teenage grandchildren - all U.S. citizens - to wed would-be immigrants. Men and women would pay her up to $12,000 each; once married, clients could obtain a green card and later U.S. citizenship. - AP

09/21/2009: New USCIS.GOV Website

Resigned uscis.gov website is already up and running, one day earlier than scheduled. We will conduct a detailed review shortly.

09/18/2009: Colleges Play the Name Game

"A recent study found that more than 530 of the approximately 3,000 mainstream colleges and universities have at least tinkered with their names since 1996. And the name changes have been picking up the pace in the past year or so, says the study's author, James M. Owston, a dean at Mountain State University. What's more, as marketing has become more sophisticated--while regulations have remained lax--some colleges are picking new names that attempt to attract students by creating impressions that, in some cases, don't entirely match the college's reality." - Yahoo News

09/17/2009: President Obama on Healthcare and Immigration Reform

"If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all. That's what I've said from the start. That's what I say tonight.......My commitment is real and so is my desire to get this done. In fact, the changes we've made administratively are already making a difference. The American people did not send us to Washington to ignore problems just because they're tough. They sent us here to solve them. And that's what we can and must do on immigration reform." - The White House

09/17/2009: USCIS Selects Recipients for the FY 2009 Citizenship Grant Program

On Sept. 17, 2009, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that 13 organizations have been selected to receive federal funding ($1.2 Million) to support citizenship preparation programs for legal permanent residents (LPRs). This funding will also expand outreach on U.S. citizenship, rights and responsibilities, and available educational opportunities and resources. - Fact Sheet

09/17/2009: USCIS Meeting Invitation

"The USCIS Office of Transformation cordially invites you to a collaboration session to hear your views on the creation and management of an online account system for processing benefit applications." - USCIS invitation

The meeting is on Friday, September 25, 2009 at 10:00am, in Washington D.C. You may also call in to the meeting.

09/16/2009: Mexican American Astronaut not Backing Down

NASA went ballistic when Jose Hernandez advocated legalization of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. shortly after his return to Earth. The California-born son of migrants isn't backing down. - LA Times

09/14/2009: Police Seeking Missing Yale Student Find Body

"It was supposed to have been Annie Le's wedding night. But hours after the missing Yale graduate student was to have been married, investigators found a body stuffed inside a wall of the lab building where she was last seen alive on Tuesday.....authorities were assuming they were of Ms. Le, 24, a slight, California-bred daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who was studying pharmacology." - NY Times

Our hearts and prayers go out to Ms. Le's family and friends.

09/14/2009: Recession Slows Migration, but Immigrants Stay Put

"The recession has dampened the movement of economic migrants to the major immigrant-receiving regions of the world. And, counter to the widely held public perception, immigrants overwhelmingly are choosing to stay put in their adopted countries rather than return home despite very high unemployment and lack of jobs." - MPI Report

09/11/2009: USCIS Invites National Stakeholders to Review New Website

"Please join us for a discussion of the newly revised USCIS website (USCIS.gov). This dialogue is scheduled for Friday, September 18th at 2:00 pm in the Tomich Center at 111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. We hope that you will be able to join us as we provide a visual presentation of the changes to the website and the new functionality that has been added. In addition to the presentation, we will also present a "click-thru" demonstration of the new site to preview the new look and features of the site. An open question and answer session will follow the presentations." - USCIS Invitation

09/10/2009: October 2009 Visa Bulletin

09/09/2009: President of John Hopkins Univ. Lacks Security Clearance on APL Research

He has to wait in longer lines at the airport. He couldn't vote in last year's historic presidential election. But until he took over as president of the Johns Hopkins University in March, Ronald Daniels had never been denied a professional privilege because he is Canadian.

As a Canadian citizen who just received his green card, Daniels cannot obtain security clearance to oversee classified research. And under Hopkins' enormous research umbrella sits the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel. The lab attracted $845 million in research money last year, about 70 percent of which came from the Department of Defense. Many of those defense contracts involve classified research. - Baltimore Sun

09/09/2009: Last Day for Voting on DHS National Dialogue

Please rate and comment on ideas at the Department of Homeland Security National Dialogue. Here is the immigration section. You need to register first, but it takes only minutes. Make your voice heard!

"It is important to note that the review process is iterative. The study groups and the dialogue participants will work throughout the summer to develop and refine the study content. The findings that derive from this iterative process will be presented to DHS Leadership, Federal interagency leaders, and state and local government leaders for their decision. The Secretary of Homeland Security will provide her conclusions to Congress in a final report by December 31, 2009."

09/08/2009: E-Verify Now Mandatory for Federal Contractors

Starting today, federal contractors and subcontractors must use E-Verify to electronically verify the employment eligibility of employees working under Federal contracts. E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It allows participating employers to electronically verify their employees' employment authorization. Results are immediately available online. - E-Verify Supplemental Guide for Federal Contractors

For private employers, use of E-Verify is still voluntary, with limited exceptions.

09/04/2009: Successor-in-Interest Determinations in Adjudication of Form I-140 Petitions

This memorandum amends the current Adjudicator's Field Manual guidance on factors for making successor-in-interest determinations in the adjudication of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. USCIS recognizes that business practices change over time, particularly in the areas of acquisitions, mergers, and transfers of assets and liabilities between entities. USCIS is cognizant that business entities do not always wholly assume the assets and liabilities of entities they acquire or merge with and that businesses may choose not to assume certain assets or liabilities in connection with a perfectly legitimate transaction. This updated guidance is intended to allow flexibility for the adjudication of I-140 petitions that present novel yet substantiated and legitimate successor in interest scenarios. - Neufeld Memo

09/03/2009: Exchange Visitor Program-Secondary School Students

DOS Advance notice of proposed rulemaking: The Department seeks information on alternative and more specific means of screening potential families to host exchange visitors participating in the Secondary School Student category of the Exchange Visitor Program. Current regulations allow sponsors the flexibility to exercise their independent judgment when evaluating the financial resources, moral character, and composition of potential host families, as well as the suitability of potential home environments. The Department believes, however, that the lack of specificity or industry standards may have contributed to the recent degradation of the appropriateness of selected families, thereby putting at risk the health, safety, and welfare of this most vulnerable group of exchange visitors.

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