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Immigration News - July and August of 2011

08/31/2011: ICE FAQ on High Priority Cases

DHS must ensure its immigration enforcement resources are focused on the removal of those who constitute our highest priorities, specifically individuals who pose a threat to public safety such as criminal aliens and national security threats, as well as repeat immigration law violators and recent border entrants. In fact, the expenditure of resources on cases that fall outside our enforcement priorities hinders our public safety mission by clogging immigration court dockets and diverting resources away from individuals who constitute our highest priorities. Although DHS has been successful in focusing its enforcement resources on criminal aliens, repeat violators, border entrants and other priorities, this process further strengthens these efforts. - ICE

08/31/2011: California to Consider Offering Scholarships to Undocumented Students

An estimated 20,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year in California, about one-third of the nationwide total, according to the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education. Only 5% to 10% of them continue on to college. That's because most are from poor families and can't afford it. Until last month, they were unable to receive scholarships of any kind, even if they qualified. That changed when Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making undocumented students eligible for privately-funded grants. Now, a bill being dubbed the second round of the California Dream Act would allow these students to receive state-funded scholarships that draw from a larger and more reliable pool of money. - TIME

08/30/2011: USCIS Customer Service Phone Menu

We took a snapshot of the USCIS Customer Service Phone Menu and made it available for your reference. It does appear cleaner, and is easier to navigate than the old IVR system.

08/29/2011: Despite (New) Policy, Friendswood Teacher Deported

Esterny Ironche had no criminal history, and he was married to a U.S. citizen. He had overstayed a visa 15 years ago, but had paid his taxes and had legal work authorization from the government. He had a case pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals. And he was in remission for prostate cancer and participating in a clinical trial in Houston. All of those factors, the lives that had carefully constructed together here, would surely count in his favor, they figured.

But the government did not spare Ironche, who was loaded onto a flight from Houston to Dallas with the suitcase his wife had packed for him. He arrived in Madrid early Thursday. - Houston Chronicle

08/26/2011: USCIS Phone Menu to Change on Monday

According to USCIS Public Engagement Office, the USCIS customer service phone menu will change on Monday, August 29. The re-designed Interactive Response (IVR) System will have fewer and shortened menu options to provide easier navigation for callers. The new system provides the same information, but in a more efficient way.

08/26/2011: USCIS Final Rule: Paperless System

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations to enable U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to migrate from a paper file-based, non-integrated systems environment to an electronic customer-focused, centralized case management environment for benefit processing. This transformation process will allow USCIS to streamline benefit processing, eliminate the capture and processing of redundant data, and reduce the number of and automate its forms. This transformation process will be a phased multi-year initiative to restructure USCIS business processes and related information technology systems. DHS is removing references to form numbers, form titles, expired regulatory provisions, and descriptions of internal procedures, many of which will change during transformation. DHS is also finalizing interim rules that permitted submission of benefit requests with an electronic signature when such requests are submitted in an electronic format rather than on a paper 2 form and that removed references to filing locations for immigration benefits. In addition, in this rule DHS is publishing the final rule for six other interim rules published during the past several years, most of which received no public comments. - DHS

08/26/2011: USCIS Open House - California Service Center

Join us for presentations on our immigration work and a tour of our facility. You will have a chance to:

  • Meet and greet California Service Center leadership and staff
  • Attend general presentations on employment & family-based immigration
  • Tour the California Service Center facility
  • See citizenship display and the latest test preparation materials
  • Pick-up information on how to get a "green card"
  • Receive tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of immigration fraud

When: Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 1pm to 3:30pm

Where: 24000 Avila Road (South Entrance), Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

08/25/2011: USCIS Open House - Nebraska Service Center

Join us for a tour of our facilities, displays about facets of our organization, and presentations on a variety of topics, including a basic immigration overview, E-Verify, and the following form type: I-765, I-131, I-140, I-485 (Employment Based) and more.

When: Thursday, September 8, 2011, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m

Where: 1301 W. Highland Blvd, Lincoln, NE 68521

08/25/2011: USCIS Monthly Stakeholder Teleconference: Form I-140

USCIS Service Center Operations Directorate invited interested stakeholders to participate in a monthly stakeholder teleconference to discuss Form I-140. The presentation (PowerPoint) has been published. - USCIS

08/24/2011: Washington State Couple Sentenced for Alien Harboring and Illegal Employment

According to court filings, Valera recruited an impoverished young woman from the Philippines to be her family's live-in domestic servant. Valera and Salvatierra employed the victim from August 2006 through September 2009, when she escaped. During her employment, the victim was required to work seven days a week, providing full-time childcare, cleaning, cooking and other domestic services. The victim endured verbal abuse and threats during her stay with the defendants. She was paid $200 to $240 per month. "The defendants took advantage of a vulnerable young woman for their personal financial gain," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who engage in such conduct." - ICE

08/20/2011: Obama Plan to Review Deportation Cases Stokes Heated Debate

The Obama administration's plan to review the cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants currently in deportation proceedings to identify "low-priority" offenders has sparked a debate in Washington and beyond. Officials said that by launching the case-by-case review, they are refocusing deportation efforts on convicted felons and other "public safety threats." Those who have not committed crimes could be allowed to remain in the U.S. - LA Times

08/20/2011: Fewer Youths to Be Deported in New Policy

The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces. - NY Times

08/19/2011: BBB Warning on Immigration "Support" Websites

The consumer alert was prompted mainly by 46 complaints from U.S. customers about the website The website displays what looks like an official U.S. seal, and its content mimics that of many federal government websites. It charges as much as $1,080 for services such as help with preparing an application for citizenship or obtaining a "fiancé visa." The BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois has referred the matter to the Illinois Attorney General Lisa for review, based on the complaints. - San Diego Union Tribune

08/18/2011: Reforming America's Regulations and Policies on Employment-Based Immigration

The Obama Administration should follow through on its promise to provide regulatory relief on employment-based immigration and naturalization policies, conclude two new reports released by the National Foundation for American Policy, an Arlington, Va.-based policy research group. - NFAP

08/18/2011: Foreign Students in Work Visa Program Stage Walkout at Plant

Hundreds of foreign students, waving their fists and shouting defiantly in many languages, walked off their jobs on Wednesday at a plant here that packs Hershey's chocolates, saying a summer program that was supposed to be a cultural exchange had instead turned them into underpaid labor. - NYT

08/16/2011: Infosys Whistleblower Presents Evidence of Alleged B-1 Visa Abuse

Infosys whistleblower Jack Palmer has gone public with details of his assertion that the Indian outsourcer willfully violated U.S. immigration and tax laws to increase profit, by soliciting B-1 visas instead of H-1B visas for Indian employees. Meanwhile, Infosys continues to deny Palmer's allegations. - CIO

08/16/2011: E-Verify Self Check Now Available in 21 States

USCIS is releasing the Self Check service in phases. At this point the service is offered only to users that maintain an address in Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Colombia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, or Washington. The availability of Self Check will be limited for the initial launch as the service is tested and improved upon based on the outcomes of the initial implementation. - USCIS

08/12/2011: USCIS Memo on Locally Filed Form I-130 and DOS

Historically, the Department of State (DOS) consular officers have processed Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) filed overseas where USCIS does not have a presence. Based on recent discussions with DOS, USCIS has determined that it is more cost-effective for USCIS to adjudicate all I-130s with certain limited exceptions. As of August 15, 2011, the instructions for the Form I-130 will require a petitioner who resides overseas to file by mail with a USCIS domestic lockbox unless the petitioner lives in a country where USCIS has an overseas field office and prefers to file with the USCIS international office. In certain situations, circumstances may warrant expedited local processing of an I-130 by DOS at an embassy or consulate where USCIS does not have a presence. - USCIS Memo

08/09/2011: DV-2012 Results Released

Green Card Lottery (DV-2012) Results and Data can be found following the link above.

08/09/2011: September 2011 Visa Bulletin Released

September 2011 visa bulletin was released today: no change for EB-2 preferences and slight moving forward in EB-3.

08/08/2011: Demand Data for September 2011 Visa Bulletin

The imposition of cut-off dates for some categories/countries has limited the amount of applicants who have been able to file for adjustment of status with USCIS and such applicants would not be included in the above totals. In addition, new applicants are constantly becoming eligible for processing in categories for which cutoff dates do not apply or are "upgrading" their petition to a new category. Therefore, the above totals should not be interpreted to reflect the total universe of applicant demand. These totals only represent the amount of demand which was taken into consideration during the determination of the monthly cut-off dates. - Data

The release of demand data usually means the visa bulletin will follow in the next couple of days.

08/02/2011: EB2 Green Cards for Job-Creating Entrepreneurs

USCIS has published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document on its website clarifying that entrepreneurs may obtain an employment-based second preference (EB-2) immigrant visa if they satisfy the existing requirements, and also may qualify for a National Interest Waiver under the EB-2 immigrant visa category if they can demonstrate that their business endeavors will be in the interest of the United States. USCIS will compliment these FAQs with internal training on the unique characteristics of entrepreneurial enterprises and startup companies and incorporate input from the upcoming stakeholder engagements detailed below. - FAQ

08/02/2011: Guidance Memo on Establishing "Employee-Employer Relationship" in H-1B Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued updated guidance to adjudication officers to clarify what constitutes a valid employer-employee relationship to qualify for the H-1B 'specialty occupation' classification. The memorandum clarifies such relationships, particularly as it pertains to independent contractors, self-employed beneficiaries, and beneficiaries placed at third-party worksites. - FAQ

08/01/2011: Ombudsman Case Assistance Online Pilot Program

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (Ombudsman's Office) launches its Ombudsman Case Assistance Online pilot program, a new initiative that provides direct, paperless submission of requests for assistance to the Ombudsman's Office. The pilot version is currently available to individuals who are located in Texas or the D.C. metropolitan area. The Ombudsman's Office plans to expand this initiative nationwide in fall 2011. - Q&A

08/01/2011: Department of Justice Challenges Alabama Immigration Law

The Department of Justice challenged the state of Alabama's recently passed immigration law, H.B. 56, in federal court today. In a complaint and brief filed in the Northern District of Alabama, the department said that various provisions of H.B. 56 conflict with federal immigration law and undermine the federal government's careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives. The brief filed today makes clear that, while the federal government values state assistance and cooperation with respect to immigration enforcement, a state cannot set its own immigration policy, much less pass laws that conflict with federal enforcement of the immigration laws. - DOJ

07/29/2011: Options for Univ. of Northern Virginia Foreign Students

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools are subject to a review of their certification at any time based on regulations. On July 28, 2011, pursuant to a review of University of Northern Virginia's (UNVA) certification, an SEVP representative served school officials at UNVA with a Notice of Intent to Withdraw (NOIW) the school's SEVP-certification and SEVIS access. UNVA students have two choices (click the links to learn more):
1. Continue to attend classes and maintain their active status in a manner required by regulations.
2. Seek transfer to another SEVP-approved institution. - ICE

07/29/2011: Random Residency Checks Strike New Mexico Town

This week 10,000 foreign nationals living in New Mexico began receiving randomized letters informing them that they must drive to a new field office in Albuquerque to prove their New Mexican residency and identity. But why? - BNHR

07/29/2011: F1 Students at California Community Colleges Risk Losing Status

Due to significant budget decreases in 2008-09, California's community colleges did not have the resources or capacity to accommodate a full course load for each student in their school system. As a result, F-1 nonimmigrant students studying at these schools had trouble maintaining visa status. Unable to enroll in a full course load as required by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regulations to maintain lawful status and despite their intention and attempts to do so, students were compelled to violate immigration law. This placed them at risk for penal action by immigration officials. SEVP worked with the California Community College Chancellor's Office (CCCCO) to ameliorate immediate consequences for students who had no other recourse - ICE

07/29/2011: Univ. of Northern Virginia Raided by ICE

Yesterday at about 9:30 am agents from ICE, SEVP, and other federal agencies arrived at UNVA to serve and execute a search and seizure warrant. We want to provide as much information here as we can to dispel rumors. Most importantly, we want to emphasize that UNVA is open for business, classes are being held as scheduled, and as long as students attend classes as required they will continue to remain in status. - UNVA

07/27/2011: Gutierrez Arrested Near White House in Dream Act and Immigration Protest

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez took his fight for immigration policies straight to the White House - and got arrested for it. The Illinois congressman was slapped in handcuffs Tuesday for peacefully protesting the Obama administration's deportation policies and his inability to push forward the DREAM Act. - Fox News

07/26/2011: Brown Signs California 'Dream Act' for Undocumented Immigrants

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday extending scholarship opportunities to undocumented immigrant students, part of landmark "Dream Act" legislation vetoed by Brown's predecessor. Assembly Bill 130 allows students who are in the country illegally but qualify for in-state tuition to apply for private financial aid. The Democratic governor is likely this year to sign a broader companion bill, Assembly Bill 131, allowing illegal immigrants to seek public aid, including Cal Grants. - Fresno Bee

07/25/2011: USCIS Releases New Data Reports

USCIS' Office of Performance and Quality has now made 10 data sets available to the public on our website at the following address: Four of the data sets will be updated monthly; they include processing times and performance data for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; performance data for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; and statistics on Form I-914, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status, and Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. Forms I-914(T) and I-918(U) are used for victims of trafficking and victims of crime.

07/25/2011: PERM Statistics as of May 31, 2011

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification recently released a status report on PERM applications. - DOL

07/25/2011: New Bills Introduced to Eliminate Green Card Lottery Program

The Judiciary Committee passed two separate bills introduced by Congressman Bob Goodlatte. The bipartisan Security and Fairness Enhancement (SAFE) for America Act, H.R. 704, would eliminate the controversial visa lottery program from the Immigration and Nationality Act, thereby helping to ensure our nation's security while making the administration of our immigration laws more consistent and fair. - House

07/15/2011: Green Card Lottery (New) Results now Available

New drawing for DV-2012 has taken place and the results are now available online. Check your status here:

07/14/2011: Agree between U.S. and Russia regarding Visa Issuance

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today announced an agreement on the issuance of nonimmigrant business, tourist, private and humanitarian visas to the Russian Federation, and for business and tourist visas to the United States, as well as short-term official travel visas to both counties in keeping with the joint statement issued during the meeting of President Obama and President Medvedev in Deauville, France on May 26, 2011. - DOS

07/12/2011: The Forgetful Mr. Smith

President Obama's top immigration enforcer, John Morton, recently instructed his officials to take mitigating factors into account, like an immigrant's family ties in the United States and education status, when deciding which deportation cases to pursue. It was not a major breakthrough, but it was sensible and humane, which is why it drew the ire of Representative Lamar Smith, who thinks Mr. Obama is too soft on illegal immigrants. - NYT

07/12/2011: August 2011 Visa Bulletin Released

See August Visa Bulletin and retrogression tracker. Not as good as we thought for EB2, but at least the cutoff dates didn't move backwards!

07/11/2011: Boston Mayor Threatens to Quit Plan Targeting Crime by Immigrants

In an abrupt turnaround, Mayor Thomas M. Menino has said he will withdraw Boston police from the federal Secure Communities program unless US federal immigration officials limit their deportation efforts to only those immigrants who have committed serious crimes.

In a letter to be delivered today to the Department of Homeland Security's Secure Communities task force, Menino said the program, which requires that fingerprints from arrests be cross-referenced with federal immigration databases, has caused a breakdown of relations between residents and law enforcement officials in Boston's immigrant communities. The cross-referencing means that people picked up for relatively minor crimes can face deportation, along with the more serious criminals the program was meant to target. - Boston Globe

07/07/2011: Immigration Fraud Prevention Act Introduced

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation to make it a federal crime to defraud individuals in connection with any matter arising under federal immigration law. In addition, the bill would make it a felony to falsely represent oneself as an attorney or a person authorized to represent clients in immigration proceedings. Although immigration law is a federal matter, there is currently no federal criminal statute to penalize and prevent immigration fraud. - Senate

07/05/2011: Celebrating America's 235th Birthday by Welcoming New Citizens

This week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) celebrated America's 235th birthday by welcoming more than 24,000 new citizens in nearly 350 naturalization ceremonies around the globe. Watch a special video from USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas commemorating this important week for America and its newest citizens. - DHS

07/05/2011: USCIS Meeting Invitation: AC21

USCIS invites interested parties to participate in a stakeholder teleconference on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 2:00pm (EDT) regarding the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21). USCIS continues its rulemaking efforts to implement AC21. While the regulation is being developed, USCIS wants to engage with stakeholders on several key issues to obtain valuable input that will better inform our rulemaking efforts. - USCIS

07/05/2011: USCIS Meeting Invitation: CSPA

The USCIS Service Center Operations Directorate invites interested stakeholders to participate in the next Monthly Stakeholder Teleconference scheduled for Tuesday, July 26, 2011 from 2:00pm to 3:30pm Eastern Time. These engagements present an opportunity for stakeholders to receive current information from service center officials on particular topics of interest. The Vermont Service Center will host the July teleconference with assistance from the California Service Center. The topic for the July 2011 teleconference will be The Child Status Protection Act and the Grandfather Clause as related to preserving priority dates. - USCIS

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