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Immigration News - September and October of 2011

10/31/2011: USCIS FY-2012 H-1B Cap Count

49,200 petitions toward the regular H-1B cap (65,000) as of 10/28/2011.

10/28/2011: DOL Foreign Labor Certification FY-2010 Performance Data

The Department of Labor published FY-2010 Labor Certification Performance Report, organized by State.

10/26/2011: New USCIS I-485 Inventory Released

After nearly five months, USCIS today released new pending I-485 inventory. Our Green Card Tracker has now been updated with the new data.

10/25/2011: USCIS Redesigns EAD Card and Certificate of Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas today announced the launch of an enhanced Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and a redesigned Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560) with new features to strengthen security and deter fraud. As part of USCIS's ongoing efforts to enhance the integrity of the immigration system, the state-of-the-art technology incorporated into the new documents will deter counterfeiting, obstruct tampering, and facilitate quick and accurate authentication. USCIS began issuing the new EADs today and will begin using the redesigned certificates on Oct. 30. The agency anticipates that more than 1 million people will receive the new documents over the next year. - USCIS

10/25/2011: FY-2012 H-1B Cap Count Update

See log and graph here.

10/24/2011: DOL on Incorporating New and Old SOC Codes into PERM System

The Department of Labor is working to incorporate new and/or revised Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes into the Permanent (PERM) Program online application system. Until the new codes are fully integrated, filers may experience situations where the new and/or revised, SOC codes are not available in the PERM online application system. Until such time as the new codes are incorporated, the Atlanta National Processing Center (ANPC) will accept the older SOC codes even though they may not match the code indicated on the Prevailing Wage Determination. Filers may also consider placing the new SOC job title in section H.3, and the new SOC code in section H.14 of the ETA Form 9089.

10/21/2011: Original I-797 Receipts Will be Sent to Attorneys

A year ago, USCIS initiated an internal system change that altered where we send receipt notices (I-797). Last month, when the change went into effect, we heard from stakeholders that this change had an unintended negative external impact. We scheduled a stakeholder meeting, gained an understanding of the impact, and have decided to return to our previous practice of sending the original notice to the attorney or accredited representative's address listed on the Form G-28. A copy will be sent to the address provided by the applicant or petitioner in the applicable form. This change will take effect in approximately six weeks due to the need to re-program our system. We appreciate the feedback you provided. - USCIS

10/21/2011: Customs Turns Back Russian Engineers Working for Boeing

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport denied entry Friday to 15 Russian engineers from Boeing's Moscow Design Center and sent them back to Russia. The incident caused the company to suspend U.S. travel for other engineers from Russia "until Boeing can determine the appropriate way to proceed," said spokesman Marc Birtel. - Seattle Times

10/20/2011: N-300, N-336, N-600 and N-600K Filing Location Change

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is enhancing the filing process for select forms dealing with naturalization and citizenship (N-Forms). Beginning Oct. 30, 2011, the new process will allow individuals to file N-Forms at a secure Lockbox facility instead of our local offices. This change streamlines the way forms are processed, accelerates the collection and deposit of fees and improves the consistency of our intake process. - USCIS

10/18/2011: Upcoming USCIS Stakeholder Engagement Meetings

1. Teleconference on Friday, October 28th at 3:00 pm (Eastern) to discuss recently implemented process changes for the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, when filed by petitioners residing overseas.

2. Teleconference on Wednesday, November 2nd at 2:00 pm (Eastern) regarding the adjudication of J-1 Exchange Visitor waivers of the two year foreign residence requirement.

10/18/2011: ICE Year-end Removal (Deportation) Summary

Overall, in FY 2011 ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 396,906 individuals - the largest number in the agency's history. Of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors - an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals since FY 2008. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence. ICE achieved similar results with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Ninety percent of all ICE's removals fell into a priority category and more than two-thirds of the other removals in 2011 were either recent border crossers or repeat immigration violators. - ICE

10/17/2011: New California Law Bars E-Verify Requirement for Employers

For years, activists against illegal immigration pushed cities across California to adopt ordinances ordering businesses to verify that their employees were eligible to work in the U.S. Several cities, including Temecula, Murrieta and Lake Elsinore, complied and required businesses to enroll in E-Verify, an online program that uses federal databases to check the immigration status of workers. Those that refused could face fines or revocation of their business licenses.

But those victories appear to have been wiped out this month with legislation signed into law that prohibits the state, cities and counties from mandating that private employers use E-Verify. - LA Times

10/17/2011: USCIS-AILA Meeting Q&A

AILA welcomes the extensive outreach USCIS conducts and the wide range of opportunities to provide input it makes available to the served public, including outreach through various national and local stakeholder events and activities, posting for comment of policy documents on the USCIS website, and the establishment of community relations and public engagement offices in each USCIS location. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to meet with USCIS in the liaison setting in order to more thoroughly discuss issues of mutual concern. - USCIS

10/15/2011: Court Blocks Alabama from Checking Student Status

In a blow to Alabama's toughest-in-the-nation immigration law, a federal appeals court sided with the Obama administration Friday when it blocked public schools from checking the immigration status of students. The decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said police can't charge immigrants who are unable to prove their citizenship, but it let some of the law stand, giving supporters a partial victory. The decision was only temporary and a final ruling wasn't expected for months, after judges can review more arguments. - CBS

10/12/2011: Foreign Labor Certification Annual Report for FY 2010

The Department has released its Foreign Labor Certification Annual Report. The 2010 Annual Report presents information on the Prevailing Wage Determination Process, Permanent Labor Certification and Temporary Nonimmigrant Labor Certification for FY 2010. In addition, this report contains valuable information on State Employment-Based Immigration Profiles, Permanent Education Certification Statistics, H-1B Education Certification Statistics and Country Employment-Based Immigration Profiles. - DOL

10/11/2011: USCIS Announces "Entrepreneurs in Residence" Initiative

The initiative builds upon USCIS's August announcement of efforts to promote startup enterprises and spur job creation, including enhancements to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. Since August, USCIS is:

  • Conducting a review of the EB-5 process;
  • Working with business analysts to enhance the EB-5 adjudication process;
  • Implementing direct access for EB-5 Regional Center applicants to reach adjudicators quickly; and
  • Launching new specialized training modules for USCIS officers on the EB-2 visa classification and L-1B nonimmigrant intra-company transferees.

10/09/2011: New Bill to Eliminate Per Country Limits

Rep. Zoe Lofgren introduced the Protecting American Families and Businesses Act of 2011. The bill's provisions include:

  • eliminating per country limits on the employment-based side (with a three year phase-in);
  • raising the per country limit on the family-based side from 7% to 15%; expanding "AC-21" protection to also include L and F visa holders, giving them the same protections H-1B visa holders currently have; creating a new "W" temporary visa for the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) caught in the green card backlogs; and,
  • recapturing unused employment-based and family-based green cards to shorten green card backlogs.

10/05/2011: November 2011 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has just released the November 2011 Visa Bulletin. Both China and India EB2 will advance to 11/01/2007.

10/02/2011: Unauthorized Aliens Residing in the U.S.: Estimates Since 1986

Estimates derived from the March Supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS) indicate that the unauthorized resident alien population (commonly referred to as illegal aliens) rose from 3.2 million in 1986 to 11.2 million in 2010. Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Research Center, has been involved in making these estimations since he worked at the U.S. Bureau of the Census in the 1980s. The estimated number of unauthorized aliens had dropped to 1.9 million in 1988 following passage of a 1986 law that legalized several million unauthorized aliens. The estimates of unauthorized aliens peaked at an estimated 12.4 million in 2007. About 39% of unauthorized alien residents in 2010 were estimated to have entered the United States in 2000 or later. - DOS

09/30/2011: Original I-797 Notices now Going to Applicants, not Lawyers

USCIS would like to inform stakeholders that, effective Sept. 12, 2011, we began sending original I-797 receipt and approval notices directly to applicants and petitioners. Copies of the notices are being sent to attorneys or accredited representatives, if a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, is on file. Previously, the original notice had been sent to the attorney or accredited representative's address listed on the Form G-28, while a copy was sent to the address provided by the applicant or petitioner in the applicable application or petition form. We implemented this notification change to ensure that documents (such as I-94 Arrival-Departure Records) are mailed directly to the address specified by the applicant or petitioner. USCIS apologizes for any inconvenience caused by not conducting commensurate outreach and providing time for affected stakeholders to adjust their practices.

09/28/2011: Nonimmigrant Visitor Statistics - 2010

During 2010, there were 160 million nonimmigrant admissions to the United States according to DHS workload estimates. These admissions included tourists and business travelers from Canada, Mexican nationals with Border Crossing Cards, and I-94 admissions. I-94 admissions accounted for 29 percent (46.5 million) of the total admissions (see Figure 1). The majority (87 percent) of I-94 admissions were temporary visitors for business and pleasure, while 6.1 percent were temporary workers and families and 3.4 percent were students. The leading countries of citizenship for I-94 admissions were Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Japan. - DHS

09/27/2011: USCIS Seeks Public Comments on Proposed EB-5 Rule

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to amend its regulations governing the employment creation (EB-5) immigrant classification. This rule only proposes requirements and procedures for special determinations on the applications and petitions of qualifying aliens whose employment-creation immigrant petitions were approved by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) after January 1, 1995 and before August 31, 1998. This rule would implement provisions of the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. - USCIS

09/23/2011: Illinois Sues Website Owner for Immigration Fraud

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed suit against a Chicago man for cheating consumers out of at least $10,000 for help with their immigration applications that he never provided.

The lawsuit alleges Lekarauskas deceptively marketed and represented his website, www.USAimmigrationsupport.com, as an official government site. The website features a logo that closely mimics a federal seal next to the title "United States Immigration Organization," and attempts to make consumers believe it is an official government site where they can obtain passports, visa and citizenship applications. - Illinois Attorney General

09/22/2011: USCIS Awards $9 Million Awarded to Expand Citizenship Preparation Programs

On Sept. 21, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the award of $9 million in grants to 42 organizations to expand citizenship preparation programs for permanent residents. This funding will support those on the path toward U.S. citizenship by building capacity in communities to meet the demand for citizenship preparation services. - USCIS

09/22/2011: Summer Work Travel Program Sponsor On-Site Reviews

The Department of State (Department) is authorized to facilitate and direct educational and cultural exchange activities in order to develop and promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. These exchanges, conducted by Department-designated sponsors assist the Department in furthering the foreign policy objectives of the United States. By this Notice, and in order to enhance its continued oversight and monitoring of designated sponsors, the Department announces its intent to conduct on-site reviews of sponsors in the Summer Work Travel Program to evaluate regulatory compliance with Program regulations set forth at 22 CFR Part 62. - DOS

09/20/2011: Applying for a Driver's License or State Identification Card

This fact sheet provides information to designated school officials (DSOs) and responsible officers (ROs) in order to help F, M or J nonimmigrants (primary and dependent status holders) obtain a benefit such as a driver's license or state identification (ID) card. In addition to the information provided here, DSOs, ROs and nonimmigrants should familiarize themselves with the regulations, policies and other applicable information of the state or territory of residence, as each may have different requirements. - ICE

09/19/2011: 10,000 U Visas Approved This Year

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), marking a significant milestone in its efforts to provide relief to victims of crimes, has for the second straight year approved 10,000 petitions for U nonimmigrant status, also referred to as the U-visa. On an annual basis, 10,000 U-visas are set aside for victims of crime who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute crime.

09/19/2011: DHS Launches New Website for Studying in the States

Being an international student is a complex process that involves several government agencies. Together with our partner agencies, DHS has worked to make Study in the States a clearinghouse of information aimed at helping international students and academic officials navigate this process. On this website, you'll find up-to-the-minute news and information related to nonimmigrant international students, as well as detailed information on pertinent topics such as maintaining student visa status or using newfound skills in the workplace while here in the United States. - DHS

09/16/2011: FY-2011 Employment-Based Visa Numbers Exhausted

According to an email from USCIS Public Engagement, the Department of State has notified USCIS that all employment-based(EB) visa numbers for FY-2011 have been used. Since it is already mid-September, it simply means that no EB visa numbers will be available for the remaining two weeks. However, USCIS will continue to accept I-485 applications based on the September Visa Bulletin.

New visa numbers for FY-2012 will be released at the beginning of October, 2011.

09/15/2011: Pair Charged in Religious-Asylum Immigration Scam

A fraudulent scheme designed to win hundreds of Chinese nationals asylum in the United States based on bogus claims of religious persecution could land a Los Angeles-area immigration consultant and a member of his staff behind bars for fraud, authorities said Thursday. - LA Times

09/13/2011: USCIS Begins Implementation of Enhancements to the EB-5 Program

USCIS is implementing the first phase in a series of proposed enhancements to the EB-5 program. Beginning today, Form I-924 applicants will be able to communicate directly with USCIS adjudicators via e-mail in an effort to streamline the process and quickly raise and resolve issues and questions that arise during the adjudication process. The Form I-924 is the Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program. Information on how direct e-mail communication will work can be found in the attached Question and Answer document and by clicking here. - USCIS

09/13/2011: DHS Insider Hacking Case Reveals Serious Network Security Vulnerabilities

Poor supervision and an unqualified workforce at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services facility fostered an environment that allowed gross security vulnerabilities and workplace bullying, current and former staff said. The Texas Service Center is one of four regional facilities that handle immigration-related petitions and applications for USCIS, an agency that has been prone to insider attacks. The sensitive data the office manages is particularly attractive to identity thieves who traffic in false documents; the data's compromise could create opportunities for human smugglers, terrorists and other criminals. - NextGov

09/13/2011: USCIS: Avoid Misleading Online Businesses and Fees

In recent weeks, USCIS has received a large number of applications prepared by an online business that charges users to complete their USCIS forms. In most cases, the charge for preparing an application is the same as the USCIS filing fee. When applicants pay these businesses online using an electronic check, the applicant is only paying for the service provided to prepare the application, and not the actual USCIS filing fee. As a result, applicants are attaching a copy of a cashed electronic check when mailing their applications to USCIS. Because the applicant has not paid the USCIS filing fee, USCIS cannot process these applications and must return them to the applicant. - USCIS

09/12/2011: Green Card Lottery (DV-2013) Instructions Released

Entries for the DV-2013 DV program must be submitted electronically between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 4, 2011, and noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Saturday, November 5, 2011. Applicants may access the electronic DV Entry Form (E-DV) at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. Paper entries will not be accepted. We strongly encourage applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. - DOS

09/12/2011: Date Calculator for Citizenship Applications

Time to apply for naturalization? Use this date calculator to find out the earliest date you may file N-400.

09/11/2011: Ombudsman Telecon Recap: Survivor Benefits under INA §204(l)

On July 27, 2011, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman's Office (Ombudsman's Office) hosted a public teleconference regarding Survivor Benefits under INA §204(l). Senior Advisor Margaret (Peggy) Gleason interviewed two USCIS officials, Office of Policy and Strategy, Family and Immigrant Victims Protection Division, Adjudications Officer Erica Simpson, and Michael Sheridan from the Office of Chief Counsel. This teleconference focused specifically on INA §204(l). The elimination of the two-year widow penalty was not covered in this teleconference. - DHS

09/09/2011: The Rites and Rights of Citizenship

I became a citizen because I believe the fight for preserving the rights of "the people" in the United States, not only other citizens, is worthwhile, and I can do that more effectively as a citizen of the country where I live. In that fight lies the defense of the American values of tolerance and respect. It also means that I can disagree with much of American foreign policy, as I do, and try to change it. Being a citizen of the United States doesn't mean that I'm any better or worse as a person. (Nor will I drop my Canadian "pardon me?" for the American "WHAT?") It means that the United States has recognized me as part of its family, and I have recognized the American people as part of mine. And family relationships, as we all know, require work and communication. I will try to live up to my own professed ideals of fairness and equality for all. And I expect the United States to do the same. - Moustafa Bayoumi

09/09/2011: Labor Certification Timelines and Time Periods

DOL frequently asked questions and answers with regard to recruitment timelines and time periods. - DOL

09/09/2011: October 2011 Visa Bulletin Released

Both India and China EB2 categories showed a three-month forward movement, advancing to July 15, 2007 for October. What a great way to start the new Fiscal Year! EB3, however, followed its usual pattern by crawling ahead.

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