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Immigration News - March and April of 2017

04/19/2017: USCIS Will Issue Redesigned Green Cards and Employment Authorization Documents

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced a redesign to the Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card) and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project. USCIS will begin issuing the new cards on May 1, 2017. These redesigns use enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features to create cards that are highly secure and more tamper-resistant than the ones currently in use. - USCIS

04/18/2017: Trump Signs Order That Could Lead to Curbs on Foreign Workers

Yet the order calls for a series of relatively modest steps, like a multiagency report on changes needed for the H-1B program, under which the government admits 85,000 foreign workers annually, many of them in the high-tech, industrial, medical and science fields. Collectively, the efforts outlined in the order could take years to carry out.

But the order would likely hurt the biggest users of the visa program, technology outsourcing firms that bring foreign workers to the United States to perform technical jobs, typically from India. - NYT

04/11/2017: May 2017 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for May 2017. 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) 2013-02-08 24
India Second (EB2) 2008-06-22 0
ROW Third (EB3) 2017-03-15 28
China Third (EB3) 2014-10-01 47
India Third (EB3) 2005-03-25 1
Mexico Third (EB3) 2017-03-15 28
Philippines Third (EB3) 2013-01-01 108

The Department of State also made the following announcement with regard to EB1 and EB2 future movement:

Employment First Preference: A Final Action Date will be established for both CHINA-mainland born and INDIA in the near future. Once such a date has been established, there is some chance that it might advance slowly through September. The date for these countries will once again become CURRENT for October, the first month of fiscal year 2018.

Employment Second Preference: Worldwide, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Philippines can be expected to become oversubscribed no later than July. It is possible that there could be some forward movement of the established Final Action Date by September. The date for these countries will once again become CURRENT for October, the first month of fiscal year 2018.

04/07/2017: USCIS Reaches FY 2018 H-1B Cap

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reached the congressionally mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. However, please keep in mind USCIS suspended premium processing April 3 for up to six months for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions. - USCIS

04/06/2017: US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ANNOUNCES PLANS TO PROTECT AMERICAN WORKERS FROM H-1B PROGRAM DISCRIMINATION

The department will protect American workers against discrimination through the following actions:

  • Rigorously use all of its existing authority to initiate investigations of H-1B program violators. This effort to protect U.S. workers will also involve greater coordination with other federal agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security and Justice for additional investigation and, if necessary, prosecution.
  • Consider changes to the Labor Condition Application for future application cycles. The Labor Condition Application, which is a required part of the H-1B visa application process, may be updated to provide greater transparency for agency personnel, U.S. workers and the general public.
  • Continue to engage stakeholders on how the program might be improved to provide greater protections for U.S. workers, under existing authorities or through legislative changes.

04/05/2017: “Improving Border Security and Public Safety”

The border security challenges facing DHS and our nation are considerable, particularly along the southern border. We have the laws in place to secure our borders. We also have outstanding men and women working at DHS, and in other federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, who are committed to the border security mission. Finally, we now have a clear mission objective and the will to complete that mission successfully. We must accelerate our collective efforts and dedicate additional resources to enforce the laws on the books and support those sworn to uphold the law. You have my commitment to work tirelessly to ensure that the men and women of DHS are empowered to do their jobs. - DHS

04/01/2017: This is what immigration means to the US economy in two charts

Immigrants are responsible for nearly half the population growth of the United States, and by extension that also means they are a sizable part of the growth in the U.S. labor force. - CNBC

03/24/2017: Maryland high school thrust into immigration debate amid bathroom rape case

A Maryland high school has been thrust into the national immigration debate after a 14-year-old student said she was raped in a bathroom there by two classmates, including one who authorities said came to the U.S. illegally from Central America.

Protesters on both sides of the debate converged on a nearby elementary school Thursday during a visit by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. And the White House has weighed in, saying the president has made a crackdown on illegal immigration a priority "because of tragedies like this." - Chicago Tribune

03/23/2017: Peter Kwong, Authority on Chinese Immigration, Dies at 75

Peter Kwong, who came to the United States to be trained as an engineer but became instead an authoritative scholar on America’s Chinatowns and Chinese immigration, died on March 17 in Manhattan. He was 75.

His career spanned the 1965 immigration act, which reversed four decades of virtual exclusion of Asians, and the more recent gentrification of Manhattan’s Chinatown. He charted the spread of ethnic Chinese newcomers to satellite enclaves in other boroughs and the suburbs; the linguistic ascent of Mandarin over Cantonese; and, in New York City, the ultimate validation of an ethnic group’s rise: the designation of Lunar New Year as a holiday, when public schools are closed and alternate-side parking rules are suspended. - NY Times

03/15/2017: Green Card Tracker Updated with Data as of January 2017

green card tracker

Today USCIS published the pending I-485 inventory with data as of January 2017. 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.

03/15/2017: USCIS Will Accept H-1B Petitions for FY 2018 Beginning April 3

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2018 cap on April 3, 2017. All cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before April 3, 2017, for the FY 2018 cap will be rejected.

USCIS recently announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3 for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. While premium processing is suspended any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition will be rejected. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected. - USCIS

03/09/2017: April 2017 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for April 2017. 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) 2013-01-15 31
India Second (EB2) 2008-06-22 21
ROW Third (EB3) 2017-02-15 76
China Third (EB3) 2014-08-15 153
India Third (EB3) 2005-03-24 2
Mexico Third (EB3) 2017-02-15 76
Philippines Third (EB3) 2012-09-15 184

03/06/2017: GOP critics praise Trump's tweaked travel ban

President Donald Trump's scaled-back order restricting travel from six majority-Muslim nations won over one of his biggest GOP critics Monday and drew tepid support from other Republicans who had criticized his initial travel ban. - Politico

03/03/2017: USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions. This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times. - USCIS

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