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Immigration News - July 2019

07/31/2019: USCIS Releases U Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published the U Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide to provide law enforcement and other certifying agencies with helpful information and best practices for the U visa certification process. This guide will assist law enforcement and other certifying agencies, who play a critical role in the U visa adjudication process, and will ensure they have the resources they need to provide a properly completed certification for immigrant victims of crime.

07/30/2019: USCIS Announces Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Opportunities

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today it is accepting applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program that will provide up to $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.

These competitive grant opportunities are open to organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics.

07/29/2019: H-1B: Chinese woman indicted over alleged visa fraud involving thousands of foreign citizens

Federal authorities allege Weiyun “Kelly” Huang, 30, brought in about $2 million through a scam involving H-1B visas and student work permits in which she used a Mountain View address to provide fake documents claiming foreign citizens were employed by her companies, so they could stay in the U.S.

Huang was arrested in March and remains in custody, the U.S. Department of Justice said. Charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and five counts of visa fraud, she faces a possible maximum prison sentence of 10 years for each count of visa fraud and five years on the conspiracy charge. Her arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled, the Department of Justice said Friday. - Mercury News

07/26/2019: Trump Signs Agreement With Guatemala To Limit Asylum Seekers

President Trump announced Friday that Guatemala has agreed to sign a so-called "safe third country asylum agreement" as part of Trump's strategy for reducing the flow of migrants to the U.S.

Under the agreement, migrants traveling through Guatemala from countries such as Honduras and El Salvador would have to claim asylum in Guatemala instead of the U.S. Getting Guatemala to sign the agreement was a key component of Trump's strategy for reducing illegal migration to the U.S. - NPR

07/25/2019: Trump Administration Considering 'Travel Ban' On Guatemalans After Asylum Snub

The Trump administration is actively investigating imposing a travel ban against Guatemala unless the Central American nation takes significant steps to curb illegal migration northward.

In a move reminiscent of the pressure campaign President Trump launched against Mexico over immigration, the travel ban is the most explosive option of three that the administration says it's considering against the Central American nation, according to White House and other U.S. sources familiar with the plans. Trump charged Guatemala with backing out on an immigration deal with the United States. - NPR

07/23/2019: USCIS to Make Significant Changes to EB-5 Program

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will publish a final rule on July 24 that makes a number of significant changes to its EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, marking the first significant revision of the program’s regulations since 1993. The final rule will become effective on Nov. 21, 2019.

07/22/2019: Trump admin to expand expedited immigrant removal authority

The Trump administration on Monday announced its intention to expand authority for expedited removal of immigrants who cannot prove they have been in the U.S. for two years.

Current policy allows low-level officials to use expedited removal, which permits deportation without a hearing before an immigration judge, within 100 miles of the border and for individuals who have been in the country less than two weeks.

Under the proposed expansion, immigrants who did not arrive by sea anywhere in the U.S. — more or less than 100 miles from the border — and have been continuously present in the U.S. for less than two years could face expedited removal. - The Hill

07/19/2019: Green card scam thwarted by ‘best sex ever’ text

A Liberian soccer player’s attempt to trick U.S. immigration authorities into giving him a green card backfired after an agent in Rhode Island viewing the phone of the woman claiming to be his wife saw an incoming message from another person thanking her for the “best sex ever,” prosecutors say.

Prince Mark Boley, 30, is now facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine after being convicted by a federal court this week of lying to immigration officials and providing false information on immigration documents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Rhode Island announced. - Fox News

07/19/2019: USCIS Announces Plan to Improve the Naturalization Test

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising the current naturalization test with improvements to ensure it continues to serve as an accurate measure of a naturalization applicant’s civics knowledge and that it reflects best practices in adult education assessments. The goal is to create a meaningful, uniform, and efficient test that will assess applicants’ knowledge and understanding of U.S. history, government and values.

...USCIS is soliciting the input of experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent. After careful analysis of the pilot, and thorough officer training, USCIS will set an implementation date in December 2020 or early 2021.

07/18/2019: H-1B: Federal judge backs government’s narrower view of ‘specialty occupation’ in tossing Indian woman’s case

A federal court judge has thrown out a lawsuit by an Indian technology worker who claimed she was illegally denied an H-1B visa, ruling in favor of the federal government and its claim that the woman’s planned job did not meet the definition of a “specialty occupation” required for the visa.

The ruling supporting the agency’s narrower view comes as Citizenship and Immigration’s umbrella agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is developing a new rule that would redefine what constitutes a specialty occupation “to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program,” according to Homeland Security. The agency has not specified a new definition, but said the rule would be finalized next month. However, Homeland Security has several times delayed finalizing a new rule banning from employment H-4 visa-holding spouses of H-1B workers who are on track for a green card. - Mercury News

07/17/2019: H-1B RFE Statistics

Percentage of H-1B petitions with RFE’s has almost doubled, from roughly 20% to nearly 40%, while approval rate has decreased from 83% to 63%. - Immigration Road Blog

07/17/2019: Free Citizenship Education Training by USCIS

USCIS offers free training for adult educators, program directors, volunteers, and representatives from immigrant-serving organizations. These seminars are designed to enhance the skills needed to teach U.S. history, civics, and the naturalization process to immigrant students and to administer comprehensive adult citizenship education programs.

07/14/2019: Trump administration announces major crackdown on asylum seekers

The Trump administration on Monday announced a sweeping new policy tightening restrictions for asylum seekers, in a move that could drastically reduce the number of Central American migrants eligible to enter the United States in this way.

The new rule, published in the Federal Register, would require most migrants entering through America’s southern border to first seek asylum in one of the countries they traversed – whether in Mexico, in Central America, or elsewhere on their journey. In most cases, only if that application is denied would they then be able to seek asylum in the United States. - Fox News

07/12/2019: Sen. Paul’s BELIEVE Act Raises Skilled Immigration Without Tradeoffs

Today, Sen. Rand Paul introduced the Backlog Elimination, Legal Immigration, and Employment Visa Enhancement (BELIEVE) Act (S. 2091). The BELIEVE Act would solve most of the major issues with skilled immigration in one piece of legislation. Altogether, the bill would increase green cards (which grant permanent residence) for employment-based immigrants by nearly fourfold, and it does so without making any changes that would injure other categories of legal immigration. - Cato Institute

07/11/2019: August 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for August 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 61
India Second (EB2) 2009-05-02 8
ROW Third (EB3) 2016-07-01 -1126
China Third (EB3) 2016-07-01 182
India Third (EB3) 2006-01-01 -1277
Mexico Third (EB3) 2016-07-01 -1126
Philippines Third (EB3) 2016-07-01 -1126

07/10/2019: House Passed HR-1044

HR-1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, just passed the House with an overwhelming margin: 365:65. The bill will now move to the Senate, where it will see a much higher level of resistance.

07/09/2019: Stay Tuned for August 2019 Visa Bulletin

In recent years, August has been a tough month for visa bulletins. The Department of State tends to tighten visa numbers during August, and sometimes September too, to make sure they don't exceed the annual quota. As a result, we often see a dip in the visa bulletin tracking graph:

visa bulletin tracker

We'll see if the trend changes this year.

If you keep wondering when the new visa bulletin will be released, you can sign up for our free email alert. As soon as the Department of State publishes a new visa bulletin, we'll send you an email to let you know. You can unsubscibe anytime.

07/08/2019: House to Vote on H.R. 1044 Bill Tomorrow

It's reported that House Bill HR-1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, will proceed for a floor vote as early as Tuesday. H.R. 1044 aims to remove the per country limit for employment-based immigration. It has been placed on a fast-track process, allowing it to bypass hearings and amendaments. As a result, it now requires 290 votes to pass. Given that it already has more than 300 co-sponsors, there appears to be a comfortable margin for HR-1044 to succeed in the House.

However, for a bill to move forward and eventually reach the president's desk, it still has to pass the Senate, which is a totally different story. See below for Bloomberg Law's analysis.

H.R.1044 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): This bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15%, and eliminates the 7% cap for employment-based immigrant visas. It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.

07/05/2019: Green Card Cap Legislation Remains Blocked Despite H-1B Deal

A deal between two Republican senators was expected to clear a roadblock that for years has stalled legislation to eliminate per-country caps on employment-based green cards. Then a previous sponsor of the measure torpedoed it.

Paul is one of several senators—both Republican and Democratic—with a hold on the bill, making its future uncertain. For Democrats, the chief concern is that the bill would reallocate green cards among immigrants of different nationalities without increasing green cards to accommodate all workers seeking one, according to a Democratic aide. - Bloomberg Law

07/05/2019: Administration tells judge 'all available options' being considered to add citizenship question

The Trump administration notified a federal judge Friday that government lawyers are looking at "all available options" for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census form that goes to every U.S. household.

The notice, in a brief document filed in federal court in Maryland, was expected, given President Donald Trump's comments early Friday that he has not given up on the idea and might issue an executive order directing the Commerce Department to add the question. - NBC

07/04/2019: Happy 4th of July!

Happy July 4th

07/03/2019: H-1B: Bay Area man charged with visa fraud over alleged ‘bench-and-switch’ scheme

A Bay Area man is one of four executives of U.S. technology-industry staffing firms charged with H-1B visa fraud. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Sateesh Vemuri, 52, conspired with three New Jersey men to bring foreign workers into the U.S. in 2015 and 2016 by using faked documents to obtain H-1B visas. - Mercury News

07/03/2019: Poll: DOJ Still Looking To Add Census Citizenship Question, Official Tells Court

An official says the Justice Department has been instructed to keep looking for a way to ask 2020 census responders whether they are citizens of the United States.

The Justice Department statement came in a court filing released Wednesday. Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said, "We at the Department of Justice have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court's decision, that would allow us to include the citizenship question on the census." - NPR

07/03/2019: Poll: Immigration overtakes health care as top issue for voters

Immigration has surpassed health care as the issue that voters see as the most important facing the United States, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill.

Forty-two percent of registered voters pointed to immigration as the top issue, compared to 38 percent who chose health care, the survey shows. - The Hill

07/02/2019: USCIS to Celebrate Independence Day by Welcoming Nearly 7,500 New Citizens

This week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our country by welcoming almost 7,500 new citizens in nearly 110 naturalization ceremonies between July 1 and July 5. Our naturalization ceremonies will be held in venues across the country, and include several notable ceremonies.

07/01/2019: President of El Salvador Says Migrant Deaths in Rio Grande Are ‘Our Fault’

The new president of El Salvador said that his country was to blame for driving tens of thousands of its citizens to emigrate every year, including a father and daughter who became a focal point in the migration debate when they drowned while trying to cross into the United States last week.

“They fled El Salvador, they fled our country,” he continued. “It is our fault.” - NY Times

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