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Immigration News - January and February of 2016

02/29/2016: Oscars 2016: Twitter Reacts to 'Asian Joke' at Academy Awards

It was a joke that involved a stereotype about Asians being good at math (the three children were introduced as PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants with Asian- and Jewish-sounding names), but ended with Rock saying onstage, "If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids." - NBC

02/27/2016: NY moves to allow illegal immigrants to teach in public schools

"New York education officials are defending a hotly debated plan to allow illegal immigrants to be certified as public school teachers. Saying the district doesn’t want to “close the door on their dreams,” state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia explained those eligible for the teaching certification came to America as children." - Fox News

02/25/2016: USCIS Issues Guidance on I-485 Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures

Effective February 25, 2016, new guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual provides information on the general policies and procedures for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence as well as adjustment under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Policy Highlights

Part A: Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures

  • Provides guidance on basic eligibility requirements and filing instructions (including the definition of a “properly filed” application), concurrent filing and jurisdiction.
  • Provides guidance on evidentiary requirements, including initial evidence, unavailability of official records, use of affidavits and requests for evidence.
  • Provides guidance on interviews, including interview waiver criteria and use of interpreters.
  • Clarifies adjudication guidelines to include guidance on verifying the underlying basis for adjustment and reviewing ongoing eligibility, verifying visa availability and determining admissibility.
  • Updates guidance on applicants’ requests to transfer a pending adjustment application from one underlying basis to another.
  • Explains the applicable burden of proof and standard of proof and provides guidance on determining when the favorable exercise of discretion is warranted.

Part B: 245(a) Adjustment

  • Explains eligibility requirements for adjustment of status under INA section 245(a).
  • Explains the meaning of “inspected and admitted” and “inspected and paroled” and reviews the purpose and scope of the terms: inspection, admission and parole.
  • Explains the distinction between lawful status, unlawful status and period of authorized stay.
  • Explains the scope and applicability of the bars to adjustment and related exemptions, including employment-based exemptions.

02/24/2016: Green Card Tracker Updated with Data as of January 12, 2016

green card tracker

USCIS today published the pending I-485 inventory with data as of January 12, 2016. We have now updated the green card tracker with the latest information. The I-485 tracker includes data from USCIS' pending I-485 inventory as well as DOS' pending consular processing cases.

02/20/2016: Thousands Rally After Conviction of Ex-Cop Peter Liang in Death of Akai Gurley

"Several thousand protesters, most of them Chinese Americans, packed a park in downtown Brooklyn Saturday afternoon to show support for Peter Liang, a former New York Police Department (NYPD) officer who was convicted last week of second-degree manslaughter and official misconduct in the shooting death of an unarmed man in a Brooklyn housing project.

While demonstrators expressed sympathy for Gurley's family, they also criticized the jury's verdict, saying the shooting was unintentional and that Liang, 28, wasn't acting recklessly when his gun went off while patrolling a pitch-dark stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses in Brooklyn." - NBC

02/18/2016: Pope Francis Wades Into U.S. Immigration Morass With Border Trip

"Stepping to the concrete edge of the Rio Grande, Pope Francis on Wednesday went to a militarized divide of the United States-Mexican border and prayed for compassion toward immigrants. He never set foot in the United States, but he did step directly, and deliberately, into the acrimonious American debate over immigration." - NY Times

02/13/2016: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Has Died at Age 79: Texas Governor

"Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. "We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law." - NBC

02/11/2016: USCIS Written Testimony on EB5 Investor Visa Program

Congress created the EB-5 visa program in 1990 as a tool to stimulate the U.S. economy by encouraging foreign capital investments and job creation. The EB-5 program makes imm"Based on these numbers, it is estimated that at least $8.7 billion has been invested into the U.S. economy through the EB-5 program since October 1, 2012. In terms of job creation, based on the number of approvals of Form I-829 to remove conditions on permanent residence since October 1, 2012, it is estimated that an aggregate total of an estimated 35,140 jobs have been created for U.S. workers through foreign investment via the EB-5 program. While these are rough estimates, USCIS is working to refine data systems to better collect program performance data and has entered into an agreement with the Department of Commerce to conduct a valuation study of the EB-5 program which we expect to receive in the second quarter of FY2016." - USCIS

02/08/2016: March 2016 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for March 2016. 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 historical data, predictions and more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2012-08-01 153
India Second (EB2) 2008-10-15 75
ROW Third (EB3) 2016-01-01 92
China Third (EB3) 2013-06-01 243
India Third (EB3) 2004-07-15 30
Mexico Third (EB3) 2016-01-01 92
Philippines Third (EB3) 2008-03-15 67

The Department of State also updated their Visa Bulletin Predictions for the next few months.

02/05/2016: H-2B Returning Workers Exempted from the H-2B Cap for Fiscal Year 2016

"Effective December 18, 2015, H-2B workers identified as “returning workers” are exempted from the fiscal year (FY) 2016 annual H-2B cap of 66,000 visas...A returning worker is defined as an H-2B worker who was previously counted against the annual H-2B cap of 66,000 visas during FYs 2013, 2014, or 2015. - USCIS

02/04/2016: Border agent: 'We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether'

"In a shocking reversal of policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are being told to release illegal immigrants and no longer order them to appear at deportation hearings, essentially a license to stay in the United States, a key agent testified Thursday.

What's more, the stand down order includes a requirement that the whereabouts of illegals released are not to be tracked. 'We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether,' suggested agent Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council." - Washington Examiner

02/01/2016: A Yahoo Employee-Ranking System Is Challenged in Court

"One of Marissa Mayer’s signature policies as chief executive of Yahoo has been the quarterly performance review, in which every employee at the company is ranked on a scale of 1 to 5. The ratings have been used to fire hundreds of employees since Ms. Mayer joined the company in mid-2012.

In a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Gregory Anderson, an editor who oversaw Yahoo’s autos, homes, shopping, small business and travel sites in Sunnyvale, Calif., until he was fired in November 2014, alleges that the company’s senior managers routinely manipulated the rating system to fire hundreds of people without just cause to achieve the company’s financial goals." - NY Times

02/01/2016: Guidance for Employers Conducting Internal Form I-9 Audits

All employers are required to complete a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification to verify their new hires' identity and employment eligibility. The Department of Homeland Security Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) partnered and published guidance for employers on internal Form I-9 audits in compliance with the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). Download the entire Guidance for Employers Conducting Internal Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 Audits to help ensure internal audits are conducted properly and do not discriminate against employees.

01/26/2016: USCIS Message: Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

Do not fall victim to scammers who call and say they are with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)! There has been an increase in aggressive phone scams where people call and threaten you with police arrest or deportation if you don’t pay them. Even if you do owe taxes…

  • The IRS will NEVER call and demand immediate payment over the phone.
  • The IRS will NEVER try to threaten or intimidate you, demand payment with a prepaid debit card, or ask for your credit card or debit card number over the phone.
  • The IRS will NEVER threaten to call the police or immigration agents if you don’t pay.

If you get a call like this, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484 or visiting Also, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at

01/21/2016: United States Begins Implementation of Changes to the Visa Waiver Program

"The United States today began implementing changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) welcomes more than a million passengers arriving to the United States every day and is committed to facilitating legitimate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security and border protection. Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

  • Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at our embassies or consulates." - Department of State

01/19/2016: In potential landmark case, Supreme Court takes up Obama's immigration plan

"Setting the stage for a potential election-year blockbuster decision, the US Supreme Court has agreed to decide a Texas case challenging President Obama’s executive action to shield from deportation more than 4 million undocumented immigrants. The president announced the controversial policy in November 2014. But before it could go into effect, Texas and 25 other states filed a lawsuit seeking to block the program." - CSMonitor

01/16/2016: Supreme Court delays decision on reviewing Obama immigration measures

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday deferred a decision about whether to hear the Justice Department's challenge to a federal appellate ruling blocking implementation of President Barack Obama's executive orders to shield some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Though the immigration matter does not appear on Friday's list of cases to be heard during the current term, the nine justices still have time to add it to the docket." - Fox News

01/13/2016: USCIS I-485 Filing Visa Bulletin for February 2016

  • For Family-Sponsored Filings:
    You may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart for February 2016.
  • For Employment-Based Filings:
    You must use the Application Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for February 2016.

01/12/2016: New Law Increases H-1B and L-1 Petition Fees

"The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113), signed into law by President Obama on December 18, 2015, increases fees for certain H-1B and L-1 petitioners. These petitioners must submit an additional fee of $4,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $4,500 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions postmarked on or after December 18, 2015.

The additional fees apply to petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the United States, with more than 50 percent of those employees in H-1B or L (including L-1A and L-1B) nonimmigrant status....This fee is in addition to the base processing fee, Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee, American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 fee (when required), as well as the premium processing fee, if applicable." - USCIS

01/08/2016: February 2016 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for February 2016. 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 historical data, predictions and more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2012-03-01 29
India Second (EB2) 2008-08-01 182
ROW Third (EB3) 2015-10-01 0
China Third (EB3) 2012-10-01 92
India Third (EB3) 2004-06-15 31
Mexico Third (EB3) 2015-10-01 0
Philippines Third (EB3) 2008-01-08 68

01/08/2016: A Rush of Central Americans Compounds Obama’s Immigration Task

This recent influx is compounding President Obama’s troubles with immigration in his final year in office, as his efforts to achieve broad protections for immigrants already living in the country illegally have stalled in the federal courts and his fallback actions to try to quell a new border surge have alienated many political allies.

The new rush of Central American families began in late July, and on several recent days reached the heights of the 2014 influx. By Dec. 1, more than 17,000 migrants in families were caught along the border, more than double the number in the same period in 2014. - Bloomberg

01/05/2016: "Military age men" at San Diego's southern border

"Among the several dozen Pakistani and Afghan men who have entered the U.S. illegally, coming into San Diego from Tijuana, two were found to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a letter sent by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter to the Department of Homeland Security.

Shigg said he believes that federal officials should be talking openly about this new development and committing more resources to keeping people from such countries in custody until they can be completely vetted." - San Diego Reader

01/05/2016: U.S. Begins Immigration Crackdown on Central Americans

The Obama administration this weekend began detaining Central Americans who have evaded deportation orders, launching a crackdown on people illegally in the country amid an increase in migrants trying to cross the southwest border.

Just before Christmas, government officials confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security was planning a clampdown on Central American migrants in January that would include women and children. The operation began in Georgia and Texas, immigration attorneys and advocates said Sunday. - WSJ

01/03/2016: Migrant Crisis Risks Eroding European Union’s Gains

The migrant crisis has divided the European Union, raised new security concerns in a region scarred by terrorism, recast an old debate about how to integrate large, often disaffected Muslim populations, and begun to reshape national politics across the bloc. While Europe remains split about how to tackle the challenge, all countries agree that the first priority this year will be to reduce the inflow to more manageable levels. - WSJ

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