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Immigration News - September and October of 2012

10/28/2012: Office Closings - Hurricane Sandy Closes Multiple USCIS Offices

Due to Hurricane Sandy several USCIS offices on the east coast will be closed on Monday, October 29, 2012. All applicants appointments will be rescheduled to the next available appointment date; applicants do not need to do anything to request a rescheduled date. To ensure the office is open for business and for further instructions on rescheduling your appointment if the office is closed. Please continue to monitor the USCIS page for changes.

10/27/2012: Rise of the Tiger Nation

Asian-Americans are now the country's best-educated, highest-earning and fastest-growing racial group. They share with American Jews both the distinction and the occasional burden of immigrant success.

No one would dispute the opening paragraph of the Pew Research Center's massive study of Asian-Americans, released over the summer: "Asian-Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success." Or as Mr. Lin put it in a video of congratulation he made last spring for the overwhelmingly Asian-American graduates of New York City's famed Stuyvesant High School: "Never let anyone tell you what you can't do." - WSJ

10/25/2012: Don't be Fooled by Telephone Scammers Posing as USCIS Employees

Recently, we were made aware of a new telephone scam where individuals pretend to be USCIS employees and aggressively try to get you to sign up for a training course led by government officials. These scammers attempt to will pressure you to pay for this course and will ask you to disclose your financial information (i.e.-money order, credit card and bank account details) over the phone. - USCIS

10/22/2012: Reviewing the Use of 'Illegal Immigrant'

Terms like "undocumented" and "unauthorized" can make a person's illegal presence in the country appear to be a matter of minor paperwork. Many illegal immigrants aren't "undocumented" at all; they may have a birth certificate and passport from their home country, plus a U.S. driver's license, Social Security card or school ID. What they lack is the fundamental right to be in the United States. Without that right, their presence is illegal. Some say the word is inaccurate, because depending on the situation, they may be violating only civil, not criminal law. But both are laws, and violating any law is an illegal act (we do not say "criminal immigrant"). - AP

10/22/2012: Filmmaker Sues LA County Sheriff over Detention

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on behalf of people who say they were denied bail for minor offenses after being flagged by immigration authorities. British filmmaker Duncan Roy, who says he spent nearly three months in L.A. County jails without a chance to post bail, is one of the five plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which will be filed today in U.S. District Court. - LA Times

10/22/2012: Friendly Reminder to Check DV Status for Additional Selections

The Department of State has had a message on their website about potentially selecting more DV-2013 lottery winners on October 22, 2012. If you entered DV-2013 and weren't selected initially, it is worth checking your status again. Below is the DOS message:

"DV 2013 Entrants: Please keep your confirmation number until at least September 2013, even if you were not selected on May 1, 2012. The Department of State may select more DV 2013 entries on October 22, 2012 at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4)."

10/17/2012: Wealthy Foreigners Fund Charter Schools for Visas

It's been a turbulent period for charter schools in the United States, with financial analysts raising concerns about their stability and regulators in several states shutting down schools for poor performance. The volatility has made it tough for startup schools to get financing. But an unlikely source of new capital has emerged to fill the gap: foreign investors. - FiscalTimes

10/17/2012: How Will the Health Law Impact Coverage for Immigrants

The health law will help some gain coverage, although those in the country illegally will not get access to federal subsidies or to insurance sold through new state-based exchanges. That omission as well as other decisions by the Obama administration has brought complaints from immigration advocates. Hispanic groups complained about an announcement this summer by the Obama administration that it would not extend the health law's coverage to young adults who are accepted into a new program granting temporary amnesty to some who were brought to the U.S. as children.

But for those who are not exempt, the health law is expected to boost coverage, either through private insurers or in Medicaid, the state-federal health program for low-income residents. Here are five questions about the health law, immigrants and the medical providers who care for them. - PBS

10/13/2012: Jailed Immigrant Mother Released, Reunites With Family

The immigrant mother from Brooklyn who was jailed for months without facing any charges was released from her Virginia detention facility and reunited with her family after NBC 4 New York's reports on the case. Jian Ling Lin was emotional as she hugged her young children Friday night, holding them for the first time since June. - NBC New York

Original report:

10/13/2012: LA Mayor Wants City ID Card for Immigrants

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is pushing a plan to create an official city photo identification card that could double as a prepaid ATM card and help immigrants get access to banking services. The initiative could reduce crime because fewer people would have to carry cash, but critics say it's another ill-advised City Hall effort to accommodate illegal immigrants. - LA Times

10/12/2012: November 2012 Visa Bulletin Released

In November, 2012 the cutoff date for EB2-China will advance to 2007-09-01, while India EB2 staying at 2004-09-01. ROW EB2's will become Current.

10/12/2012: Processing Statistics — Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals

USCIS DACA data since August 15:
Stage Description Cumulative to 09/13/12 Cumulative to 10/12/12
1. Intake No. of requests accepted for processing 82,361 179,794
2. Biometrics No. of biometric appointments scheduled 63,717 158,408
3. Case Review No. of requests under review 1,660 6,416
4. Approved No. of requests approved 29 4,591

10/11/2012: Immigration Sting Hits San Diego 'Pedicab' Drivers

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack said Thursday's arrests include many with student visas that didn't allow them to work. They are mostly from Turkey but also Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Brazil and Pakistan. They are being ordered to leave the country within a month. - Sacramento Bee

Pedicab in dictionary: A pedal-operated tricycle, available for hire, with an attached seat for one or two passengers

10/10/2012: Demand Data for November 2012 Visa Bulletin Released

Here is the demand data used to determine cutoff dates for the upcoming November 2012 Visa Bulletin, which is likely to be released in the next day or so.

10/09/2012: Readers Won't Benefit if Times Bans the Term 'Illegal Immigrant'

For two weeks, I've been listening to people and reading about the term "illegal immigrant." I have gathered information from readers, advocates, reporters and editors. I even had a face-to-face meeting with the most visible proponent of a change to "undocumented," Jose Antonio Vargas, whom I found to be intelligent, passionate and charming.

...After all the buildup, my weighing in may seem anticlimactic, because I see no advantage for Times readers in a move away from the paper's use of the phrase "illegal immigrant." - NY Times

10/09/2012: Candidates on Immigration-An Overview

With less than a month to go in the 2012 presidential race and the first debate in the books, many voters and non-voters alike continue to wonder whether social issues will return to center-stage. The 2012 campaign has seen lots of action on immigration, but the campaigns themselves seem reluctant to tackle the subject head on—a task we aim to take-up. So here, at-a-glance, are the candidates' positions on immigration.

10/02/2012: DACA Applications Fewer than Expected

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials had prepared to process 300,000 applications from young illegal immigrants by Oct. 1. But only about 120,000 people have applied so far. Alejandro Mayorkas, who heads the federal agency, called the response "significant," even though it is far below projections. - NY Times

10/02/2012: DHS Announces Taiwan's Designation into the Visa Waiver Program

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced the designation of Taiwan into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - streamlining travel for thousands of eligible Taiwan passport holders, while maintaining strong security standards.

Taiwan will join 36 participants in the VWP—which permits visa-free travel to the United States for eligible travelers visiting the United States for 90 days or fewer for business or tourism. In Fiscal Year 2011, the VWP accounted for 18.3 million visits to the United States, or more than 60 percent of tourist and business travelers entering the United States by air.

10/01/2012: Workload Transfer from Service Centers to Field Operations

USCIS wants to notify customers and stakeholders that some work that USCIS performs at the four USCIS service centers (Vermont, Nebraska, Texas and California) will be transferred to a Field Office or the National Benefits Center (NBC) in order to balance the overall workload with processing capacity.

  • I-90, from NSC to NBC;
  • Standalone I-130, from all service centers to field offices;
  • Interview-Wavable Family-Based I-485, from CSC to NBC.

10/01/2012: New Filing Option for Canadian TN Nonimmigrants

On Oct. 1, 2012, USCIS will begin accepting the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, filed on behalf of Canadian citizens who are outside the United States and seeking classification as a TN nonimmigrant. With respect to the TN classification, USCIS currently only accepts Form I-129 in connection with a request to extend a TN nonimmigrant's stay or to change a nonimmigrant's status to TN. - USCIS

09/28/2012: President Signs S.3245 into Law

On Friday, September 28, 2012, the President signed into law S. 3245, which extends to September 30, 2015, the expiration dates of key requirements of four immigration programs administered by the Department of Homeland Security: the EB-5 Regional Center Program; the E-Verify Program; the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program; and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program.

EB4-Religious Workers, and EB5-Pilot Program, which currently are showing "Unavailable" in the October Visa Bulletin, will instead become current for October.

09/24/2012: USCIS Systematically Undercounting H-1B Cap Usage

You're seeing this news here first. Attorney David Rubman in Chicago, Illinois has just shared with me the answer to a Freedom of Information Act request which definitively shows that USCIS has been undercounting H-1B usage by nearly 15% over the last five years. Approximately 45,000 too few H-1Bs have been approved between fiscal year 2008 and 2012. USCIS is required to approve 65,000 H-1B visas per year. They determine when the H-1B cap is hit each year based on their estimate of how many cases will be denied. They also are supposed to add withdrawn H-1Bs back to the total. USCIS has had wildly inaccurate estimates of their denial rates which has resulted in the undercounting. For example, for the current fiscal year, USCIS stopped accepting applications last January. But their data shows only 55,706 applications were approved and 1,820 cases were withdrawn. That means 11,000 more applications should have been approved. - ILW

09/24/2012: 2012 ITIN Review Frequently Asked Questions

The IRS is revising its procedures for issuing new Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) as part of a comprehensive review of the ITIN processing procedures. Forms W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, submitted during the interim period beginning June 22, 2012 through the end of the year must include original documentation such as passports and birth certificates, or copies of these documents certified by the issuing agency. During this interim period, notarized copies of documentation will not be accepted. - IRS

09/20/2012: US House Nixes Bill to Increase Visas for Foreign Scientists

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have voted down legislation that sought to grant permanent residency — commonly referred to as 'green card' status — to thousands of foreign researchers with graduate degrees in science and engineering from US universities. The measure, which required a two-thirds majority to pass, failed in a 257 to 158 vote on 22 September.

The bill is the first such initiative in recent years to be considered by the House for a full vote. Similar bills have been proposed by both Republican and Democrat lawmakers in the House and the Senate, indicating that there is growing support across the political spectrum for amending US immigration laws to admit a higher proportion of workers skilled in so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Both parties' candidates in the ongoing US presidential race have said that they favour increasing the flow of STEM immigrants to the US. But with legislators in gridlock over how to reform immigration policy more broadly, the bill was destined to falter. - Nature

09/20/2012: Renouncing US Citizenship: A New Trend?

US citizenship is considered a precious commodity for countless people in the United States and around the world, with more than 25 million immigrants gaining US citizenship since 1907. So when news broke earlier this year that high-profile, affluent US citizens such as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and songwriter Denise Rich had renounced their citizenship, media attention and political reaction quickly focused on their motivations and whether there is a diminishing attraction of acquiring or retaining US citizenship. - MPI

09/20/2012: Green Card Lottery (DV-2014) Instructions Published

Entries for the DV-2014 DV program must be submitted electronically between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 2, 2012, and noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Saturday, November 3, 2012. 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. No entries will be accepted after noon, EDT, on November 3, 2012. - State.gov

09/20/2012: USCIS Public Engagement Division: Chinese Language Engagement

On Thursday, October 18, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm (Eastern), USCIS will conduct a national Chinese-language engagement (Jiao liú) as part of our ongoing series of multilingual public engagements. Each Jiao liú focuses on an immigration-related topic and includes a presentation and Q&A session with USCIS officials...Our next national Jiao liú session will provide information on how to petition for an immediate relative. The event will be broadcast live from our New York District Office and stakeholders may participate in person, via teleconference by calling 1-888-989-4980 (password: Jiao liú), or via live Web stream at http://www.uscis.gov/jiaoliu.

09/17/2012: Maria Odom Named Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

Secretary Napolitano today announced that Maria Odom has been appointed as the new Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman. Ms. Odom brings substantial knowledge of immigration law and valuable experience working with community partners to address challenges with immigration and citizenship services. As Ombudsman, Ms. Odom will lead the Ombudsman's Office as they continue to provide assistance to the public, while also recommending ways U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can improve the delivery of immigration services and benefits. - DHS

09/15/2012: Social Security Number and Driver's License Issues for Students

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is aware of current difficulties that some F and M students have when applying for a Social Security number (SSN) or driver's license. SEVP and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program are working on a solution that they will implement on September 14, 2012. - DHS

09/15/2012: Processing Statistics — Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals

USCIS data from August 15 to September 13, 2012:
Stage Description Cumulative to date
1. Intake Number of requests accepted for processing 82,361
2. Biometrics Number of biometric appointments scheduled 63,717
3. Adjudication Number of requests ready for review 1,660
4. Completed Number of requests completed 29

09/13/2012: Social Security Number — Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals

  • If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants you Deferred Action status and employment authorization, you may be eligible for a Social Security number.
  • After you receive your Employment Authorization Card (I-766) from USCIS, you can apply for a Social Security number. - SSA

09/10/2012: October 2012 Visa Bulletin Released

In October, 2012 the cutoff date for EB2-China will advance to 2007-07-15, after four months of being "unavailable." India EB2 is also moving forward, but with a much smaller step to 2004-09-01. ROW EB2's October cutoff date will be 2012-01-01: Not current as expected by many, but not bad either.

For EB3 it is business as usual: Slow but steady advance for all categories except the Philippines.

Click here for the retrogression chart.

The cut-off dates for EB4 Certain Religious Workers (SR) and EB5 Pilot Program (I5 and R5) have been listed as "Unavailable" for October. Congress is currently considering an extension of these visa categories, but there is no certainty when such legislative action may occur. If there is legislative action extending one or both of these categories for FY-2013, those cut-off dates would immediately become "Current" for October.

09/03/2012: Historic U.S.-Russia Visa Agreement Enters Into Force September 9, 2012

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is pleased to announce that the historic U.S.-Russia visa agreement will enter into effect September 9, 2012. The agreement will facilitate travel and establish stronger ties between Russia and the United States, as it will benefit the largest segment of travelers in both our countries: business travelers and tourists. Starting September 9, Russian and American travelers for business or tourism will be eligible to receive visas valid for multiple entries during a period of 36 months. The agreement also outlines other simplifications in the bilateral visa regime and eases visa processing time for travelers from both countries. At the same time, the United States will be reducing the fee charged to Russians issued visas for business or tourism from $100 to $20. - DOS

09/03/2012: Individuals with DACA Not Eligible for Medicaid

Because the reasons that DHS offered for adopting the DACA process do not pertain to eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP, HHS has determined that these benefits should not be extended as a result of DHS deferring action under DACA. For this reason, individuals with deferred action under the DACA process shall not be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP under the CHIPRA state option with respect to any of the categories (1)-(9) set forth in the July 1, 2010 letter. - Medicaid

09/03/2012: With Asian Immigration Rising, Candidates Seek National Office

This election season, Kang is among 17 Asians running for Congress in the U.S. — a historic number at a time when these candidates are among the fastest-growing ethnic group in America. Who they are and why they risk money and name speaks to a growing political confidence and a belief that their personal stories of assimilation resonate with voters. - LA Times

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