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Immigration News - January and February of 2013

02/28/2013: Startup Visa Could Create At Least 1.6 Million U.S. Jobs in Next 10 Years

Startup Visas would unleash a torrent of entrepreneurial energy among foreign-born individuals in the United States, according to a white paper released today by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The report, "Give Me Your Entrepreneurs, Your Innovators: Estimating the Employment Impact of a Startup Visa," said that offering the visas has the potential to add, conservatively, between 500,000 and 1.6 million new jobs over the next 10 years. - Kauffman

02/28/2013: USCIS Policy and Procedural Memoranda

This page provides access to various policy and procedural memoranda which gives guidance to USCIS adjudicators in their work of processing applications and petitions for immigration benefits while still protecting national security. You can also find a listing of memoranda by subject to the right.

ATTENTION: Policy memos that have been partially or fully superseded by the USCIS Policy Manual have been stamped and republished. If you have bookmarked affected memo PDF files, you will now see the updated stamped version of the memo indicating that you should visit for current policy.

02/28/2013: Workload Transfer from Vermont Service Center to Nebraska Service Center

On February 13, 2013, USCIS transferred some casework from the Vermont Service Center to the Nebraska Service Center to balance overall workload with processing capacity at the centers. The affected casework includes the following forms:

  • I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  • I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (when filed concurrently with the I-821D)
  • I-765 Worksheet (when filed concurrently with the I-821D)

Effect on Customers
As a result of these changes, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) requestors may receive a letter from USCIS letting them know their request for DACA is now pending at the Nebraska Service Center instead of the Vermont Service Center. Customers do not need to take any action.

02/26/2013: New Process for U.S. Visa Applications in China

As part of the U.S. Mission in China's efforts to streamline the visa application process, the Embassy and all Consulates that issue visas are implementing a new visa appointment, fee payment and document delivery system starting on March 16, 2013.

Beginning March 16, applicants will only pay the existing, unchanged, visa processing fee of $160 for most nonimmigrant visa types. Previously, in addition to the processing fee, applicants faced additional costs for scheduling appointments and arranging for the return of their passports. Applicants will also be able to use a new online system to make visa interview appointments and to check on the status of their applications. They will be able to call the new Call Center to make an appointment or have their questions answered at no extra charge. - U.S. Embassy in Beijing

02/25/2013: Growth in Deportations

Deportations under the Obama administration are on track to hit two million by the end of this year — nearly the same number of deportations from the United States between 1892 and 1997. - NYT

02/19/2013: Invitation to Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Engagements

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State invite you to participate in a joint stakeholder teleconference to discuss the final rule establishing a new process for certain individuals to apply for provisional unlawful presence waivers while they are still in the United States. The final rule published in the Federal Register on January 3, 2013 and will be effective on March 4, 2013. Toll Free Call-In Number: 1-800-369-2065. Toll Number for Outside the U.S.: 1-212-547-0425. Passcode: Provisional

02/16/2013: White House Draft Bill to Offer 8-Year Path to Residency

A draft of a White House immigration proposal obtained by USA TODAY would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents within eight years...In addition, the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a newly created "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa.

"It fails to follow through on previously broken promises to secure our borders, (and) creates a special pathway that puts those who broke our immigration laws at an advantage over those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally," Rubio said. "It would actually make our immigration problems worse." - USA Today

02/14/2013: EB-5 Policy Memorandum for Public Comment

Today USCIS is posting an updated EB-5 memorandum for your further review and comment. Your feedback is a vital part of the stakeholder collaborative process and is critical to informing the development of our policies. To comment on the updated EB-5 memorandum, visit the Draft Memoranda for Comment section of Please send all comments on the draft memorandum to [email protected].

02/14/2013: USCIS to Consolidate Online Filing of Form I-539

On February 28, 2013, USCIS will disable the alternative legacy online filing channel for Form I-539 and offer customers the option to: File online with USCIS ELIS, or file a paper application by mail.

02/11/2013: March 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the March 2013 Visa Bulletin. The table below shows cut-off date movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. For more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date Movement (Days)
China EB2 31
India EB2 0
ROW EB3 47
China EB3 68
India EB3 7
Mexico EB3 47
Philippines EB3 10

02/09/2013: Demand Data for March 2013 Visa Bulletin

Demand Data Used in the Determination of the March 2013 Employment Preference Cut-Off Dates

01/31/2013: Possible Interview Waiver for Family-Sponsored Cases

According to a recently released USCIS-AILA conference Q&A, the following adjustment categories are considered possible interview waiver cases:

  • Unmarried minor children and stepchildren of US Citizens (IR7 and CR7)
  • Parent of US Citizen (IR0)
  • K1/K2 entrant— Fiancé(e) of US Citizen and children of Fiancé(e) (CF1/CF2)
  • Native/Citizen of Cuba filing under 11/2/66 Act (also spouses/children) (CU6/CU7)
  • Unmarried & Under 14 year old child of Lawful Permanent Resident (F27)

However, NBC (National Benefit Center) does not waive the interview for applicants who file:

  • With Supplement A to Form I-485, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i)
  • With an EWI (Entry without Inspection) class of admission
  • As part of a family pack; unless every application in the family pack meets the interview waiver criteria

01/31/2013: The Insanely Confusing Path to Legal Immigration, in One Chart

Immigration flow chart

Sarah Kliff recently posted a blog entry on Washington Post to discuss our immigration flow chart (click on the image on the right to see a large PDF version). We also received several emails asking if there is a newer version since the current edition is still dated 2009. The reason is that over the past few years major immigration processes have remained largely unchanged, so the flow chart is still valid today. With comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) on the horizon, we will certainly update the chart if CIR or any new legislation becomes law.

01/29/2013: Bill Summary: Immigration Innovation (I²) Act of 2013


  • Increase H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000
  • Establish a market-based H-1B escalator, so that the cap can adjust – up or down
  • Uncap the existing H-1B U.S. advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year)
  • Authorize employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
  • Allow dual intent for foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities
  • Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used
  • Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap (dependents, U.S. STEM advance degree holders, persons with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers)
  • Provide for the roll-over of unused employment-based immigrant visa numbers
  • Eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners and adjust per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas

01/29/2013: Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

"I'm here because most Americans agree that it's time to fix a system that's been broken for way too long. I'm here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country's future." - Speech transcript

01/28/2013: Senators Agree on Immigration Overhaul Plan

A bipartisan group of senators has agreed on a plan to grant legal status to most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., which could form the basis for a far-reaching overhaul of immigration laws this year. - LA Times

01/26/2013: Obama to Launch Immigration Push in Nevada Next Week

President Barack Obama plans to launch his second-term push for a U.S. immigration overhaul during a visit to Nevada next week and will make it a high priority to win congressional approval of a reform package this year, the White House said on Friday. - Reuters

01/23/2013: January Pending I-485 Inventory Released

Today USCIS released the employment-based pending I-485 inventory (data as of 01/03/2013). Our green card tracker has now been updated with the new data. You can check your place in line directly using the tracker, read the inventory tables for your particular category, or download the entire dataset in pdf format (original USCIS document).

01/18/2013: Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Statistics

USCIS DACA data since August 15:
Stage Intake Accepted Intake Rejected Biometrics Scheduled Case Under Review Case Approved
Aug 36,601 1,263 18,616 0 0
Sept 104,910 3,676 105,439 29,552 1,707
Oct 113,494 3,719 98,430 105,648 26,908
Nov 77,280 2,477 87,037 147,577 47,954
Dec 45,705 1,626 42,062 152,155 49,358
Jan 16,543 605 19,519 142,182 28,477
Total 394,533 13,366 371,103 - 154,404

01/13/2013: Obama Will Seek Citizenship Path in One Fast Push

President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior administration officials and lawmakers said last week. - NY Times

01/09/2013: February 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the February 2013 Visa Bulletin. The table below shows cut-off date movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. For more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date Movement (Days)
China EB2 38
India EB2 0
ROW EB3 42
China EB3 54
India EB3 7
Mexico EB3 42
Philippines EB3 7

01/08/2013: USCIS National Customer Service Center Adds Saturday Hours

Beginning Jan. 12, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) National Customer Service Center (NCSC) will expand its live, toll-free telephone assistance service (1-800-375-5283) to include Saturday hours. Customer service representatives at the NCSC will now take calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., local time.

01/07/2013: USCIS Begins Transition to Centralized Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today began the agency's transition toward an online, centralized manual of immigration policies by releasing the first volume of the new USCIS Policy Manual-- the Citizenship and Naturalization volume. Today's release follows an unprecedented, agency-wide review of USCIS policies that incorporates feedback from thousands of agency employees, customers and stakeholders. - USCIS

01/03/2013: Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers of Inadmissibility for Certain Immediate Relatives

On April 2, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a proposed rule to amend its regulations to allow certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are physically present in the United States to request provisional unlawful presence waivers prior to departing from the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications. This final rule implements the provisional unlawful presence waiver process. It also finalizes clarifying amendments to other provisions within our regulations. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) anticipates that these changes will significantly reduce the length of time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who engage in consular processing abroad. DHS also believes that this new process will reduce the degree of interchange between the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and USCIS and create greater efficiencies for both the U.S. Government and most provisional unlawful presence waiver applicants. - Federal Register

01/02/2013: Invitation to National Stakeholder Engagement with USCIS Director

On January 7, 2013, USCIS will publish the first volume of a comprehensive new online Policy Manual. This first volume will cover Citizenship and Naturalization. The transition to a centralized online policy resource is the result of an unprecedented agency-wide review of all adjudication and customer service policies. During the engagement, Director Mayorkas will discuss the Policy Manual, highlight new citizenship and naturalization-related policies, and answer questions. In addition, Director Mayorkas will provide agency updates on such initiatives as the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process, the USCIS immigrant fee, and others.

You may participate in this engagement in person or by telephone. To register, please email the Public Engagement Division no later than Monday, January 7, 2013 at [email protected]. Reference the following in the subject line of your email: If you plan to attend in person, please reference "Director – In Person." If you plan to attend by phone, please reference "Director – By Phone." The meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern).

01/01/2013: Guns, Immigration, Fiscal Issues Top Priorities for Obama, Congress

After an election year in which legislative business practically ground to a halt, Congress is poised to make up for lost time in 2013. The new Congress will begin its next session with an agenda expected to focus largely on issues that re-emerged over the past several weeks and months, with gun legislation and immigration reform near the top. - Fox News

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