The Office of Foreign Labor Certification of DOL's Employment and Training Administration issued a "Restatement of PERM Program Guidance Bulletin on the Clarification of Scope of Consideration Rule in 20 CFR § 656.10(b)(2)"
"The Department of Labor has a statutory responsibility to ensure that no foreign worker (or "alien") is admitted for permanent residence based upon an offer of employment absent a finding that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available for the work to be undertaken and that the admission of such worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed......Accordingly, the Department relies on employers who file labor certification applications to recruit and consider U.S. workers in good faith, even where the employer already has a temporarily-admitted foreign national working for the employer."
Here is the published Questions and Answers from the meeting. The next stakeholder meeting will be held on September 30, 2008 at 2:00 pm.
Question: Of the new 3,000 new USCIS hires, how many are adjudicators or other staff people dedicated to reducing the naturalization backlog?
USCIS Response: Of the 3,000 new USCIS positions allocated through the FY2007 Fee Rule and FY2008 Surge Elimination Plan, 1,471 are Adjudication Officers and 707 are support staffs who are all dedicated to processing all pending (including naturalization backlog cases) and newly filed immigration applications and petitions.
Question: In June, USCIS announced that it had centralized initial processing of all applications for naturalization at its National Benefits Center in Missouri. How does this change affect the issuance of N-400 application receipts? How would this change affect the subsequent transfer of applications from the National Benefits Center back to USCIS District Offices?
USCIS Response: There is no change to the issuance of receipts due to this centralization of initial processing. N-400 applicants will continue to receive a receipt from the Service Center to which they have sent their application package. Applicants will continue to file their naturalization applications (N-400), including all supporting documents and fees with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over their place of residence. Applicants will also continue to report to a local field office for the interview and naturalization test.
Question: Please clarify whether a 13-year-old child who is filing an I-485 should file a G-325A. Although it is not required until he or she turns 14, we are wondering if USCIS would prefer the form to be completed when s/he is 13, to avoid having to send an RFE.
USCIS Response: According to 8 CFR 245.2(a)(3)(i), USCIS will only accept the G-325A from an applicant that has reached his or her 14th birthday at the time of filing the I-485 application. If the applicant reaches his or her 14th birthday after the I-485 application was filed, USCIS will then RFE for the Biometric Fee and the G-325A. A case will not be rejected if the G-325A is included for a child under 14. However, a new G-325A and biometrics fee will be requested once the child turns 14 years of age. Although we understand and appreciate the pro-active approach, USCIS cannot accept the biometrics fee for an applicant under 14 years of age and must obtain the child's signature on the Form G-325A once the child becomes 14 years old. The RFE process is not extensive for these cases and should not significantly slow down the adjudication of the case.
USCIS responded to an email sent to CIS Ombudsman requesting updates on FBI name check progress:
"The first milestone was for all FBI Name Checks pending for more than four years to be finalized by March 31, 2008. The second milestone was for all FBI Name Checks older than three years to be finalized by May 31. The third milestone was for all FBI Name Checks older than two years to be finalized by July 31. The first three milestones have all been met. USCIS and the FBI have set four additional milestones. As of August 4, the agencies were on target to achieve all four of the remaining milestones."
If your FBI name check is more than two years old and is still pending by now, you may want to contact USCIS and ask them why.
"The largest single-workplace immigration raid in U.S. history has caused panic among Hispanic families in this small southern Mississippi town, where federal agents rounded up nearly 600 plant workers suspected of being in the country illegally."
"I was crying the whole time. I didn't know what to do," Pena said. "We didn't know what was happening because everyone started running. Some people thought it was a bomb but then we figured out it was immigration." - AP Story
One day, Hollywood will catch up and bring us a movie featuring federals agents (ICE, instead of FBI) chasing down undocumented workers instead of drug dealers.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 25 that it has revised the filing instructions for the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751). Effective immediately, all petitioners filing a Form I-751 must file with the California or Vermont Service Center, depending on the state in which they reside.
Department of State (DOS) published the final rule which amended the regulations concerning visa ineligibility for aliens who vote unlawfully. Under INA 212(a)(10)(D), in general, an alien will continue to be inadmissible, and therefore,ineligible for a visa, if the alien has voted in violation of any Federal, State, or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation. Nevertheless, pursuant to the new exception, the alien shall not be considered to be inadmissible under any provision of this subsection based on such violation if each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of such violation that he or she was a citizen.
"Every time the gate slams shut, it wipes out a dream, divides a family, ends a life lived in the shadows of the law. On average, 700 Mexicans expelled from the United States walk through this gate daily, according to Mexican government figures. They include farmers, construction workers, prisoners, nannies, children, entire families." - AP Story
The Department of State (DOS) published the final rule to amends its regulations relating to the application for a nonimmigrant visa, to generally require all applicants, with certain exceptions, to provide a set of ten scanned fingerprints as part of the application process. The scanning of ten fingerprints of nonimmigrant visa applicants has already been implemented, for the purposes of verifying and confirming identity, conducting background checks, and to ensure that an applicant has not received a visa or entered into the United States under a different name.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says its "Scheduled Departure" program apparently is not working after only eight people turned themselves in during a three-week trial. About 457,000 immigrants nationwide who are staying in the U.S. illegally but have no criminal record may qualify for this program. According to this AP story, ICE spent $41,000 to advertise the program. But an official said the government may have saved money because the cost of detaining the six immigrants who turned themselves in during the program's first week would have been $37,000.
The Department of State (DOS) published an interim final rule: Procedures for Children Abducted to the United States. This rule amends regulations regarding incoming parental abduction cases pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Incoming cases will be processed by the United States Central Authority, the Office of Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs within the U.S. Department of State or an entity designated by the USCA.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced August 15, 2008 a series of proposed rule changes that will streamline procedures for hiring workers under the H-2B program. These changes are being proposed in further fulfillment of the commitment made by the Administration last August, after the failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, to review and improve temporary worker visa programs using existing authorities. USCIS will accept public comments 30 days following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. See FAQ here.
Customers can now turn to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for help in researching their family's immigration history through the agency's new Genealogy Program. Until today, the process to request these records was handled through a Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act (FOIA) request. Individuals may submit genealogy records requests by using the new forms, G-1041 -Genealogy Index Search Request, and G-1041A - Genealogy Records Request. This service is not free, however. A Genealogy Index Search would cost $20, for example.
The Wage and Hour Division of DOL maintains a list of willful violator employers under the H-1B program.
American Immigration Law Foundation updated its practice advisory on "Arrest, Detention and Bond Procedures for Non-Citizens Without Criminal Convictions." Immigration agents - most often agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security - arrest and detain on immigration charges many non-citizens who do not have criminal convictions. This practice advisory focuses on the law governing the arrest, detention and bond procedures for non-citizens who 1) are present in the United States and 2) do not have criminal convictions.
EB2 China and India cutoff dates advanced again to August 1, 2006! All EB3 and "Other Workers" categories still remain "Unavailable." Everything else is "Current."
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it now anticipates naturalization application processing will average 10-12 months nationally by the end of September 2008 - a substantial improvement from its estimated average processing time of 16-18 months first announced last year. USCIS received 1.4 million naturalization applications in FY2007, but has been able to reduce the backlog gradually with additional staff and expanded working hours.
An ongoing battle between the Labor Department and a prominent law firm just got nastier. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, a prominent New York immigration firm, is being audited by the Labor Department for possibly giving too much assistance to clients that seek green cards for foreign workers. Today, the firm fired back with a suit claiming that some of the department's rules are unconstitutional. - WSJ Blog Story
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is informing the public that the new U.S. Passport Card may be used in the Employment Eligibility Verification form (I-9) process.
While the new card is more limited in its uses for international travel (e.g., it may not be used for international air travel), it is a valid passport that attests to the U.S. citizenship and identity of the bearer. Accordingly, the card may be used for the Form I-9 process and can also be accepted by employers participating in the E-Verify program. See the announcement.
A U.S. district court judge in New Jersey this week rejected an attempt by H-1B visa opponents to halt the Bush administration's extension of student visas from one year to 29 months -- a move it claimed would give students a better shot at getting an H-1B visa.
Hochberg's ruling focused less on the merits of the case and more on whether H-1B opponents had legal standing to bring it, noting that they could not show they had been directly hurt by the student visa extension. "Instead of alleging concrete injury, plaintiffs assert a generalized grievance with a particular government policy," the judge wrote. - ComputerWorld Story
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched a pilot program, Scheduled Departure, which will run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 22 in five cities. The program allows fugitive aliens who have no criminal history and pose no threat to the community an opportunity to remain out of custody while they coordinate their removal with ICE.
There are approximately 572,000 ICE fugitives in the United States, including 457,000 who do not have criminal histories. An ICE fugitive is defined as an alien who has failed to depart the United States based upon a final order of removal, deportation, or exclusion from a U.S. immigration judge, or who has failed to report to ICE after receiving notice to do so. Only non-criminal fugitive aliens are eligible for the program and will be screened by an ICE officer when reporting to verify status.
A University of Idaho researcher who worked on bioterrorism defenses faces deportation to Poland after being denied residency by USCIS. The reason? She worked illegally for eight months, while waiting for an EAD renewal application. The university told her that she could keep working during a 240-day grace period after the expiration of her previous EAD, which turned out to be false. Immigration officials say it doesn't matter who told her she could keep working without a permit because it's the individual's responsibility to be sure to follow the rules. - A sad story from Seattle Times
The House Immigration Subcommittee passed two important bills on Friday: H.R. 5882, to recapture employment-based immigrant visas lost to bureaucratic delays and to prevent losses of family- and employment-based immigrant visas in the future, by a vote of 8-1; and H.R. 5924, Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act, to provide relief for the shortage of nurses in the United States, by a vote of 7-2. There is still a long way for either bill to become law, but it is a good step in the right direction.
"Currently, there are 27 countries in the Visa Waiver Program, which means that citizens from places such as Austria, Italy, and Japan do not need to apply for visas to travel to the United States. In lieu of a visa, they currently fill out a paper I-94W form en route to the U.S. These forms ask for basic biographic, travel, and eligibility information, and provide our Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers an opportunity to ensure that travelers do not pose a threat before they're admitted to our country."
"With ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), we're simply automating this process so passengers can complete these forms online before they even depart for the U.S. This is clearly a win-win for all involved."
Section 245(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act establishes eight types of bars to adjustment under Section 245(a). For certain employment-based adjustment applicants, section 245(k) grants relief from three (3) of those bars (overstay, unauthorized employment, violation of visa terms, etc.). Acting Associate Director Donald Neufeld issued this important memo on July 14 to address the applicability of 245(k) to those EB adjustment of status applications.
Immigration officials are looking through a list of more than 9,000 names to see how many federal employees may have bought a phony high school or college degree from a Spokane, Wash.-based diploma mill. The list included some people who apparently work for government, educational institutions and the military, according to their e-mail addresses that ended in .gov, .edu or .mil., according to the newspaper report. - AP Story
Emilio T. Gonzalez, who stepped down in April as the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, had an interview with AP to talk about immigration reform, congress, and his new job.
USCIS Responded to Ombudsman's Recommendation #34 concerning recommendation that USCIS clarify its refund of fees procedures and revise the Adjudicator's Field Manual, Section 10.10 "Refund of Fees" accordingly.
USCIS has established a web page that provides access to significant and economically significant guidance documents issued by USCIS and those issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service that apply to USCIS. The current list includes certain critical documents such as the Cronin Memo on H1B and AC21, Yates Memo on 245(i), Yates Memo on AC21, etc. USCIS will post significant guidance documents on the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) website at www.regulations.gov. This site will provide a public forum for submission of comments and for requests to amend or issue significant guidance documents.
USCIS answers questions regarding changes to TB testing and treatment, and new vaccination requirements for adjustment of status applicants.
What GAO Found: State was unprepared for the record number of passport applications it received in 2007, leading to significant delays in passport processing....As a result, reported wait times reached 10 to 12 weeks in the summer of 2007-more than double the normal wait-with hundreds of thousands of passports taking significantly longer.
GAO recommends that the Secretary of State develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy for passport operations using a business enterprise approach to prioritize and synchronize its planned improvements. GAO also recommends that State track passport applications from the time the applicant submits an application in order to provide better customer service. State took issue with some of the findings in this report, but agreed with its recommendations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) gives notice that it is establishing a distinct System of Records, Border Crossing Information (BCI). BCI will receive and maintain border crossing information on travelers who are admitted or paroled into the United States, this information includes: Certain biographical information; a photograph; certain itinerary information provided by air and sea carriers and any other forms of passenger transportation, including rail, which is or may subsequently be mandated, or is or may be provided on a voluntary basis; and the time and location of the border crossing.
This system of records notice does not identify or create any new collection of information, rather, the Department is providing additional notice and transparency with respect to the handling of an existing collection of information, by separately noticing its collection as a distinct system of records.
The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that the new U.S. Passport Card is in full production and is now being distributed. The Passport Card is a convenient, wallet-sized document for land and sea travel between the United States and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It is not valid for international travel by air.
Beginning in June 2009, travelers will be required to present a single Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative-compliant document denoting both citizenship and identity when entering the United States through a land or sea border.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is soliciting comments from the public on a pamphlet discussing the rights and resources available to individuals coming to the United States under the K nonimmigrant classification as the fiance´(e) or the spouse of a U.S. citizen. The pamphlet is required by the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 and is intended to help such aliens understand the immigration process and prevent domestic violence. DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before September 19, 2008.
The Department of Justice today announced the award of $710,500 in grants to 11 groups serving communities throughout the country, to conduct public education programs for workers and employers about immigration-related job discrimination. The grants, which range from $40,000 to $100,000, are being awarded by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) of the Civil Rights Division. Recipients will assist discrimination victims; conduct seminars for workers, employers and immigration service providers; distribute educational materials in various languages; and place advertisements in local communities through both mainstream and ethnic media.
As U.S. employers, education institutions, and trade associations representing the future of American innovation, we are writing to urge your support for three bills that will make necessary incremental adjustments to the employment-based (EB) green card system. The measures - H.R. 6039, H.R. 5921 and H.R. 5882 - enjoy bipartisan support and should be enacted without delay this year. - CompeteAmerica Letter to Congress
The three bills will address many shortcomings in the EB green card system. For example:
A disbarred San Jose attorney accused of giving legal advice and preparing immigration documents for unsuspecting immigrants has been arrested at his office and charged with multiple felony counts of practicing law without a license and grand theft.
James C. Lopez, 50, of San Jose, had a record of disciplinary measures related to his competence as a lawyer, investigators said. In recent years, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has received numerous complaints about Lopez and his work, many from clients, even from other attorneys. - Mercury News Story
While politicians continue their heated debate over immigration, Americans will be able to see 33 foreign-born athletes competing in USA uniforms at the Beijing Olympics next month. They include Chinese-born table tennis players, Russian-born world champion gymnast, and several members of the track-and-field team.
Since October, the agency (USCIS) has added 830 adjudication officers to its ranks, bringing the total working at immigration offices nationwide to 3,775. Another 590 are expected to be trained by the end of the year.
It's all part of a renewed push to clear pending cases and to approve or deny most applications within six months. It has not been uncommon for some immigrants, who pay hundreds of dollars in filing fees, to spend a year or more awaiting a decision on their status. - Washington Post Article
EB2 China and India moved forward by more than two years to June 1, 2006! This is great news for many I-485 applicants who have been hit by FBI name checks first, then stuck in visa retrogression for the past few years. Unfortunately all EB3 categories still remain "unavailable."
We thank DOS and USCIS for their efforts to minimize potential waste of visa numbers for the remainder of FY 2008.
Pursuant to this regulatory authority, the Department (of State) hereby determines that all flight training programs no longer further the public diplomacy mission of the Department, and accordingly, effective June 1, 2010, the Department will terminate the Exchange Visitor Program sponsor designations of all eight sponsors of flight training programs - Public Notice.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued revised instructions for USCIS Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The instructions include changes effective March 5, 2008 that require applicants for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents to provide biometrics (e.g., fingerprints and photographs) at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) for background and security checks and to meet requirements for secure travel and entry documents containing biometric identifiers.
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon foreign citizens or nationals after fulfilling the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). After naturalization, foreign-born citizens enjoy nearly all the same benefits, rights and responsibilities that the Constitution gives to native born U.S. citizens, including the right to vote. Naturalized citizens can also apply for a U.S. passport to travel overseas and receive U.S. government protection and assistance when abroad.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security has just updated the immigration statistics for Naturalization in 2007:
A legal permanent resident (LPR) or "green card" recipient is defined by immigration law as a person who has been granted lawful permanent residence in the United States. Permanent resident status confers certain rights and responsibilities. For example, LPRs may live and work permanently anywhere in the United States, own property, and attend public schools, colleges, and universities. They may also join certain branches of the Armed Forces, and apply to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain eligibility requirements.
Legal Permanent Resident flow by Country of Birth: fiscal years 2005 to 2007
Legal Permanent Resident flow by state of residence is shown in the map on our home page.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that the suspension of premium processing service for religious worker (R-1) nonimmigrant visa petitions will continue at least until January 7, 2009. A previous six-month suspension was announced on January 4, 2008.
The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that it has begun placing pending permanent labor certification applications filed by the Cohen & Grigsby law firm into department-supervised recruitment. Supervised recruitment requires the employer to receive advance approval from the department for all recruitment efforts to ensure that U.S. workers are fully considered for available positions.
Last year, the department began auditing applications filed by Cohen & Grigsby as a result of information indicating the firm may have improperly advised its clients regarding the recruitment of U.S. workers. Because of concerns identified in the audits, the department is requiring supervised recruitment for certain applications filed by Cohen & Grigsby.
"Immigration is becoming more and more complex, and it's going against immigrants rather than for them," said Kim, 27, a second-generation Korean American who took the Honduran's case as part of her immigration law clinic at American University's Washington College of Law. "There's a great need for (immigration) lawyers."
"Immigration is just one part of a much broader story about globalization, of movement of goods and movement of people and movement of ideas, and what used to be a backwater of the law has become mainstream," said T. Alexander Aleinikoff, dean of Georgetown University Law School, who co-authored the first major immigration law casebook in 1985. "This is certainly a very, very hot topic." - Washington Post Story
Life seems good for Silicon Valley engineers Aung Moe and Vivek Jayanand. They're young, hip and already own luxury condos with big flat-screen TVs facing black leather couches. They're on their way to becoming U.S. citizens within several years.
But something vital is missing - their wives.
Moe and Jayanand are among a group of about a million legal, permanent U.S. residents forced to live without their spouses - and in many cases their children. - Mercury News Story
This Annual Report addresses two major events affecting immigration benefits since the Ombudsman last reported to Congress in June 2007: progress in resolving long-pending FBI name checks, and the unusually large 2007 summer surge of approximately three million applications sent to USCIS.
Key members of Congress are siding with the airline industry and moving to block the administration from forcing airlines to take fingerprints of foreign visitors before they fly home. The opposition is setting up a clash over a final Bush administration effort to tighten security and immigration by keeping better track of when visitors fly out of the country - USA Today Story.
USCIS Community Relations Answers to National Stakeholder Questions (June 24, 2008)
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