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09/18/2019: October 2019 Visa Bulletin Released - Finally!

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for October 2019. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For our unique Visa Bulletin Graphical Tracker, cutoff date predictions and more information please refer to the Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2015-01-01 -731
India Second (EB2) 2009-05-12 4
ROW Third (EB3) 2016-07-01 0
China Third (EB3) 2015-11-01 669
India Third (EB3) 2009-01-01 1280
Mexico Third (EB3) C 0
Philippines Third (EB3) 2017-10-15 471

09/17/2019: Citizenship Backlog Prolongs Wait For Immigrants

"Now a new report reveals the last step to naturalize is taking even longer. For some it is taking 18 months, that’s double the time since 2016. U.S. immigration officials now have a backlog of about 700,000 applications, that’s been accruing since 2006." - CBS Denver

09/14/2019: October Visa Bulletin is Now (Very) Late

I'm quite surprised that October Visa Bulletin was not released on Friday, the 13th. So now it looks like it'll have to be the coming week of 9/16. In recent memory I haven't seen a visa bulletin being released this late: It has always been between the 8th and 13th, or the 14th on rare occasions. DOS has not offered any explanation as to why it's late. Stay tuned.

09/13/2019: USCIS to Welcome More Than 34,000 New Citizens in Celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

"USCIS announced today that it will celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by welcoming nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens during 316 naturalization ceremonies across the nation between Sept. 13 and 23.

This time of year serves as an opportunity to celebrate the connection between the Constitution and citizenship and reflect on the meaning of becoming a citizen of the United States. USCIS welcomes approximately 650,000 to 750,000 citizens each year during naturalization ceremonies across the United States and around the world. In fiscal year 2018, USCIS naturalized more than 756,000 people, a five-year high in new oaths of citizenship." - USCIS Email

09/11/2019: Supreme Court allows Trump asylum restrictions to take effect, ending 9th Circuit injunctions

In a major win for the Trump administration, the Supreme Court issued an order late Wednesday ending all injunctions that had blocked the White House's ban on asylum for anyone trying to enter the U.S. by traveling through a third country, such as Mexico, without seeking protection there.

The Supreme Court's order was not a final ruling on the policy's merits but does allow the policy to take effect nationwide, including in the 9th Circuit, while the case makes its way through the lower courts. - Fox News

09/09/2019: Upcoming October 2019 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State is expected to release October's Visa Bulletin this week. It could be tomorrow, or as late as Friday. Since October is the first month of FY-2020, DOS will be able to use fresh immigrant visa numbers allocated for the new year. As a result, several retrogressed categories may become current again, or at least return to normal levels just before the summer. You are welcome to sign up for our Visa Bulletin Alert, and we'll send you an email as soon as it's published.

09/08/2019: Seven undocumented immigrants emerge as sex assault suspects and pull Montgomery County into national debate

Montgomery County’s top elected official, Marc Elrich, stood before a bank of TV cameras this summer to praise the county’s diversity and promise the most limited of cooperation with federal immigration agents.

National attention has fallen on Montgomery in large part because over the five-week stretch since the county executive’s pronouncement, seven undocumented immigrants living in the county were arrested on sex assault charges . Two were accused of raping the same 11-year-old girl. Another reportedly tried to kill his victim by choking her in a hallway of her apartment building. - WaPo

09/06/2019: Trump Open to DACA Deal if Administration Prevails in Supreme Court Case

In a series of Friday morning tweets, President Trump suggested that if he wins the DACA case in the upcoming Supreme Court session, he's open to a bipartisan deal to address the DACA impasse. It's still too early to predict whether comprehensive immigration reform may happen, which faces insurmountable hurdles and appears highly unlikely before the #2020 election. However, a Trump victory by the Supreme Court could bring the Democrats to the table much sooner than expected. In that case, a pathway to a merit-based system may appear on the horizon. Even incremental changes will shake up the entire U.S. immigration system. Stay tuned.

09/05/2019: New FLAG System for H-1B LCA Filing Becomes Mandatory on October 1st

OFLC is making this public service announcement to alert employers and other interested stakeholders about implementation of its new FLAG System for the Labor Condition Application (LCA) programs covering the H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 visa classifications.

OFLC will continue to accept online submissions of the Form ETA-9035E through the iCERT System until 11:59 a.m. Eastern Time on October 1, 2019. The ability to submit LCA applications using the iCERT System will be deactivated at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on that date.

Beginning September 16, 2019, the FLAG System's LCA Program Module will be enabled and stakeholders will be able to begin preparing H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 applications using the Form ETA-9035E. However, the FLAG System will not permit the submission of LCA applications until 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on October 1, 2019. - Office of Foreign Labor Certification

09/04/2019: DHS Policy Update on Using Fake Identities to Conduct Social Media Checks

USCIS is updating the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS), published on December 16, 2014. The purpose of this update is to discuss changes to the process for accessing social media information when conducting certain background, identity, and security checks. Primarily, this relates to the use of fictitious accounts or identities in certain instances, when access to publicly-available information is only available to those who have a social media account, and to protect the national security and public safety and to combat immigration fraud. USCIS will only access social media content that is publicly available to all users of the social media platform. - DHS

09/03/2019: DHS Proposes $10 Registration Fee for Filing H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to pay a $10 fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS.

09/02/2019: When A Resident Isn't A Resident: Sorting Through Immigration And Tax Terms

A lot of the confusion for international taxpayers focuses on the idea of residence. Residency feels like it should be an easy thing - it’s where you live, right? But what if where you live changes? Or if where you live isn’t where you intend to remain? Or if where you live isn’t the country where you were born? On the tax side, things can get tricky. It’s complicated even more because the definitions used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to describe residency aren’t necessarily the same as those used by the USCIS. - Forbes

09/01/2019: USCIS Office Closings Due to Hurricane Dorian

Many USCIS Field Offices and Application Support Centers may be closed next Tuesday and Wednesday due to Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 monster that's expected to reach the east coast late Monday. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are all in its current projected path. USCIS already annouced the closure of several ASC's in Floria and is likely to add more, depending on weather condition. Please check their website if you have an appointment coming - you will definitely have an opportunity to reschedule if the location is closed. Call USCIS for more information or assistance.

This is one of the largest hurricanes ever. Please heed all warnings and evacuation orders from local authorities. Stay safe, everyone!

08/30/2019: Woman Tosses Molotov Cocktail Into Florida USCIS Office

A woman tossed a lit Molotov cocktail into the lobby of a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Oakland Park, Florida. No major injuries were reported...The woman walked into the office Friday afternoon and hurled a bottle filled with gasoline and a lit fuse. But the fuse disconnected from the bottle and didn’t ignite, according to the report. Law enforcement officials believe she intended to cause harm but the incident wasn’t related to other incidents where Homeland Security agencies were targeted. - TIME

08/28/2019: Policy Manual guidance on Defining "Residence" Related to Citizenship

USCIS is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to better define residence in certain situations involving acquisition and transmission of citizenship, and clarify the distinction between U.S. residence and physical presence. In addition, USCIS is updating its policy regarding children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members employed or stationed outside the United States to explain that they are not considered to be “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320. The Policy Alert is available here. - USCIS

08/26/2019: Border Crossing Wait Times App and Website

CBP offers a suite of tools to monitor land border wait times, which can be very helpful if you are planning a trip into the United States.

  • CBP Border Wait Times (BWT) Smartphone App: Estimated wait times for reaching the primary inspection booth, the first point of contact with CBP when crossing the U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico land borders. Updated hourly. Available for both iOS and Android.
  • CBP Border Wait Times (BWT) Website: Similar functions without the need to download a mobile app. You can select options for commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles and pedestrians.

08/24/2019: DOJ Report: 64% of Federal Arrests in 2018 Were of Non-US Citizens

The never ending question: Do immigrants commit more crimes than U.S. citizens, or less?

08/23/2019: DOJ Increases Power Of Agency Running Immigration Court System

The Trump administration is making changes to the agency that operates the nation's immigration court system, a move immediately denounced by the immigration judges union as a power grab.

The agency is called the Executive Office for Immigration Review and it is an arm of the Justice Department. Under the interim rule announced Friday, the agency's director will have the power to issue appellate decisions in immigration cases that have not been decided within an allotted timeframe. It also creates a new office of policy within EOIR to implement the administration's immigration policies. - NPR

08/23/2019: Trump renews threat to end 'ridiculous' birthright citizenship

"We're looking at that very seriously," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for Kentucky. "Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land — you walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby's now a U.S. citizen. We're looking at it very, very seriously ...It’s, frankly, ridiculous."

During his campaign and again last year, Trump suggested he might use an executive order to end birthright citizenship, saying it encourages illegal immigration and "anchor babies." Democrats, who command an overwhelming share of the immigrant vote, immediately called the idea unconstitutional. - Fox

08/22/2019: Immigration to Britain falls to five-year low ahead of Brexit

Net immigration to Britain sank to its lowest since 2013 during the year to the end of March, driven by a sustained fall in the number of immigrants from the European Union since 2016’s Brexit referendum, official figures showed on Thursday.

Rising immigration was a major public concern when Britain voted to leave the EU, though it has since dropped down people’s list of worries. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government plans to introduce restrictions on EU migration as after Britain leaves the bloc on Oct. 31. - Reuters

08/22/2019: CBP Commissioner calls new rule a 'game-changer' in fight against illegal immigration

"This is a game-changer... Because of the current Flores settlement agreement, everybody knows... you grab a kid, that's your U.S. passport into the United States because we can't hold you more than 20 days...That's not long enough to go through the immigration proceedings. That's catch and release... This new rule is going to address this." - Fox News

08/19/2019: Connecticut Resident Admits Arranging Fraudulent Marriages So Individuals Would Receive Green Cards

According to court documents and statements made in court, Stephenson operated Stephenson Immigration and Legal Services, LLC, in Bridgeport. Between 2011 and 2017, Stephenson conspired with others to arrange 28 sham marriages between U.S. citizens and non-citizens residing in the U.S. for the purpose of the non-citizens’ applying for and obtaining “lawful permanent residence” (“LPR”) status, also known as a “green card.”

Stephenson typically charged between $17,000 and $20,000 to complete this process for a non-citizen, and the non-citizen spouse received between $2,000 and $4,000 for his or her participation. - DOJ

08/19/2019: USCIS Issues Guidance on Discretionary Employment Authorization for Parolees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address USCIS’ discretion to grant employment authorization to foreign nationals paroled into the United States, including those who are otherwise inadmissible.

USCIS has determined that it is necessary to issue this guidance at this time because there is a national emergency at the U.S. southern border where foreign nationals are entering the U.S. illegally. - USCIS

08/18/2019: United States and Canada Implement Preclearance Agreement

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced today, in partnership with the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, the implementation of an agreement to improve mutual security and expedite lawful travel through preclearance for travelers and their accompanying baggage on certain transports...Preclearance is the process by which officers stationed abroad inspect and make admissibility decisions about travelers and their accompanying baggage before they leave a foreign port, simultaneously increasing efficiency and security. The LRMA provides the legal framework and reciprocal authorities necessary for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Canada Border Services Agency to carry out security, facilitation, and inspection processes in the other country. - DHS

08/16/2019: President Trump Eyes a New Real-Estate Purchase: Greenland

President Trump made his name on the world’s most famous island. Now he wants to buy the world’s biggest. The idea of the U.S. purchasing Greenland has captured the former real-estate developer’s imagination, according to people familiar with the discussion, who said Mr. Trump has, with varying degrees of seriousness, repeatedly expressed interest in buying the ice-covered autonomous Danish territory between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. - WSJ

08/15/2019: September 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for September 2019. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For our unique Visa Bulletin Graphical Tracker, cutoff date predictions and more information please refer to the Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2017-01-01 0
India Second (EB2) 2009-05-08 6
ROW Third (EB3) 2016-07-01 0
China Third (EB3) 2014-01-01 -912
India Third (EB3) 2005-07-01 -184
Mexico Third (EB3) 2016-07-01 0
Philippines Third (EB3) 2016-07-01 0

08/14/2019: California counties sue to block Trump's controversial "public charge" immigration rule

The lawsuit, filed by Santa Clara and San Francisco Counties in U.S. District Court, is the first of numerous court challenges advocacy groups and Democratic-led jurisdictions have vowed to mount against the so-called "public charge" regulation, which they believe will penalize low-income immigrants and their U.S. citizen children. The final version of the regulation — a key item on the administration's hard-line immigration agenda — was revealed on Monday and is slated to go into effect in mid October. - CBS

08/13/2019: ICE Starts Immigration Site Visits For Students On STEM OPT

“Though ICE has had the authority to make site visits since regulations governing the STEM OPT program were revised in May 2016, the agency has not begun to conduct inspections until now,” according to the Fragomen law firm. “The inspection may include individual interviews with company personnel, a review and discussion of the foreign national’s training plan and its implementation, and a review of his or her skills and degree in relation to the STEM degree. ICE may also request to view F-1 trainee workspaces or receive a tour of the premises.” - Forbes

08/12/2019: USCIS Announces Final Rule Enforcing Long-Standing Public Charge Inadmissibility Law

Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule that clearly defines long-standing law to better ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States — either temporarily or permanently — are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations rather than on public resources.

This final rule amends DHS regulations by prescribing how DHS will determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The final rule addresses U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authority to permit an alien to submit a public charge bond in the context of adjustment of status applications. The rule also makes nonimmigrant aliens who have received certain public benefits above a specific threshold generally ineligible for extension of stay and change of status. - USCIS

08/07/2019: USCIS will keep international offices open in seven cities

USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli announced that USCIS will keep seven international offices open in Beijing and Guangzhou, China; San Salvador, El Salvador; Guatemala City, Guatemala; New Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; and Mexico City, Mexico.

08/08/2019: Upcoming September 2019 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State is expected to release September's Visa Bulletin soon. It could be tomorrow, or more likely, next Monday. Since September is the last month of FY-2019, it's common for DOS to apply some last-minute adjustment to cutoff dates. You are welcome to sign up for our Visa Bulletin Alert, and we'll send you an email as soon as it's published.

08/08/2019: Upcoming September 2019 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State is expected to release September's Visa Bulletin soon. It could be tomorrow, or more likely, next Monday. Since September is the last month of FY-2019, it's common for DOS to apply some last-minute adjustment to cutoff dates. You are welcome to sign up for our Visa Bulletin Alert, and we'll send you an email as soon as it's published.

08/07/2019: California resident convicted on multiple counts of "H-1B" visa fraud, aggravated identity theft

Abhijit Prasad, 52, received multiple convictions Tuesday, including 21 counts of visa fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft from a federal jury. Prasad was previously indicted on related charges during 2016.

According to the evidence at trial, Prasad filed 19 petitions for H-1B nonimmigrant visas containing false statements, made under penalty of perjury, as to purported work projects to be performed at locations in California, including Cisco Systems. The evidence at trial showed that Cisco had no expectation that the foreign workers who were the beneficiaries of the visa petitions would actually work at Cisco on an existing work project. The evidence at trial further showed that the defendant knowingly submitted forged Cisco documents to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in support of his claims that the beneficiaries would work at Cisco. - ICE

08/07/2019: Largest Single-State Worksite Enforcement Action in Nation’s History Across Mississippi

As a result of today’s operation, approximately 680 aliens were detained by HSI special agents. Some are being identified as being eligible for an alternative to detention based on humanitarian reasons. These individuals will be physically returned by HSI to their original place of detention and will still be required to appear before a federal immigration judge who will ultimately determine whether or not they will be deported. Currently, all cases are being handled via administrative law procedures at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. - DOJ

08/06/2019: H-1B Employer Data Hub Updated

USCIS H-1B Employer Data Hub has been updated with data as of March, 2019. You can also click here to check out latest H-1B visa statistics.

08/02/2019: Reminder: USCIS Rejecting Form I-129 Petitions That Lack Required Name and Address

As previously announced, on August 5, USCIS will begin rejecting Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, petitions that do not include the petitioner’s or applicant’s name and primary U.S. office address in Part 1 of the form. USCIS will subject all requests for nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129 to this rejection criteria, including the time-sensitive H-2A visa classification for temporary agricultural workers.

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