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Immigration News - November and December of 2012

12/31/2012: DHS to Recompete Online Immigration Program in 'Crisis'

The Homeland Security Department will award contracts to multiple companies to fix a long-suffering program aimed at computerizing immigration paperwork, after a lackluster job by the current vendor, according to federal officials and internal memos.

The original five-year, $536,000 plan for "Transformation" has grown into a potentially two-decade effort that, officials told Nextgov, could cost more than $3 billion if not stopped. So far, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a DHS agency, has created one online form with the $792.6 million it has spent since contracting with system developer IBM in 2008. It is unclear how much of that sum went directly to IBM. -

12/28/2012: Operational Guidance for EB-5 Cases Involving Tenant-Occupancy

This guidance memorandum (GM) is intended to facilitate adjudication of cases involving issues related to the "tenant-occupancy" methodology for establishing job creation in EB-5 cases. The guidance has been formulated following careful internal deliberation, consultation with sister government agencies, and review of responses to requests for evidence (RFEs) issued in February 2012 to a number of outstanding Regional Center applicants who relied on the tenantoccupancy methodology. This guidance will be applied to pending cases and cases filed on or after the date of this guidance that rely on the tenant-occupancy methodology. This guidance does not rescind or supersede other EB-5 guidance. - USCIS

12/28/2012: Russia's Putin Signs Bill to Ban U.S. Adoption

Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed into law a measure that bans the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families, effective January 1. The U.S. Department of State has released a statement on the Yakovlev Act:

"We deeply regret Russia's passage of a law ending inter-country adoptions between the United States and Russia and restricting Russian civil society organizations that work with American partners. American families have adopted over 60,000 Russian children over the past 20 years, and the vast majority of these children are now thriving thanks to their parents' loving support. The Russian government's politically motivated decision will reduce adoption possibilities for children who are now under institutional care. We regret that the Russian government has taken this step rather than seek to implement the bilateral adoption agreement that entered into force in November. We are further concerned about statements that adoptions already underway may be stopped and hope that the Russian government would allow those children who have already met and bonded with their future parents to finish the necessary legal procedures so that they can join their families." - DOS

12/22/2012: DOS Consular Processing Inventory Released

The Department of State has released the annual inventory of consular processing cases as of 11/01/2012. The data and summary can be found here. Our Green Card Tracker has now been updated with the new data, and as a result, the ratio of CP to AOS has changed for most EB categories. The tracker will now display your place in line for a green card with USCIS data as of 10/04/2012, and DOS data as of 11/01/2012.

12/20/2012: Top Colleges Limiting the Number of Asian Admissions

"From the get-go I want to state that (1) there is irrefutable evidence that top colleges are limiting the number of Asian admissions, and (2) what's at stake is not a few more admissions for Asians, but the much larger interest of America." - IR Blog

12/19/2012: Lawyers, Individuals Charged in Massive Asylum Fraud

As alleged in the Indictments, at least 10 New York City area law firms created and submitted these fraudulent applications on behalf of alien applicants and coached them on how to lie to immigration authorities. Of the 26 defendants charged, 21 work at the various law firms, six as attorneys. Also charged are four translators who work at an asylum office in Queens, New York; and an employee at a church in Queens where she allegedly provides training in basic Christianity to asylum applicants falsely claiming to have been persecuted in China for their religious beliefs. Twenty-one defendants were taken into custody late this morning and will be presented and arraigned this afternoon and tomorrow before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn. Of the remaining defendants, two will be surrendering tomorrow and three are at large. - DOJ

12/18/2012: Office of Foreign Labor Certification FY-2011 Annual Report

This report presents employment-based immigration program data drawn from labor certification applications and labor condition applications submitted to the Department by employers across the country in Fiscal Year 2011. An approved labor certification is often the first step in the process for many of the visa programs, both temporary and permanent, that enable employers to hire foreign workers where critical needs go unmet in the U.S. workforce. - DOL

12/15/2012: Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses

According to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, USCIS submitted a proposal on 12/10/2012 that would grand employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses. The proposed rule, dated Fall 2011, states:

"The Department of Homeland Security proposes to amend its regulations by extending the availability of employment authorization to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants who have begun the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment and have extended their authorized period of admission or "stay" in the U.S. under section 104(c) or 106(a) of Public Law 106-313, also known as the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21). Allowing the eligible class of H-4 dependent spouses to work encourages professionals with high demand skills to remain in the country and help spur the innovation and growth of U.S. companies."

12/12/2012: Implementation of New USCIS Immigrant Fee Feb. 1

On Feb. 1, 2013,U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin collecting a new USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165 from foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the United States. This new fee was established in USCIS's final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions announced on Sept. 24, 2010.

Note: Applicants will now have two separate fees to pay. They are still required to pay the DOS visa application processing fee, and will now also have to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee. - USCIS

Note from ImmigrationRoad: This new fee does not apply to I-485 Adjustment of Status process.

12/11/2012: January 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the January 2013 Visa Bulletin. The table below shows cut-off date movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. For more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date Movement (Days)
China EB2 47
India EB2 0
ROW EB3 41
China EB3 83
India EB3 7
Mexico EB3 41
Philippines EB3 0

12/10/2012: Agencies that Make up the US Immigration System

The creation of the Department of Homeland Security dismantled what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Service and divided its functions into three core agencies. - Boston Globe

12/04/2012: USCIS Publishes H-1B Statistics

Fiscal Year H-1B CapTotal I-129 H-1B ReceiptsApprovedDeniedWithdrawnClosed and Other Status

The chart above provides data on H-1B petitions filed requesting a cap number for fiscal years 2009 to 2012. The column entitled "Total I-129 H-1B Receipts" reflects all H-1B U.S. Master's degree and regular cap petitions received during a specific fiscal year's cap.

12/03/2012: Which Party is Blocking Common-Sense Immigration Reform?

On Friday the Republican-controlled House passed a bill to increase immigration for high-skilled "STEM" (science, technology, engineering and math) workers and to also cancel the immigration lottery, in which about 55,000 visas are awarded at random to among the millions who apply. - Washington Post

11/26/2012: Asian-American Says Latinos Not Only Ones Hit by Ariz. Immigration Law

Jim Shee, an Asian-American man, is demonstrating how Arizona's immigration law affects not just Latinos, but people of other nationalities that police perceive as "foreign." - USA Today

11/26/2012: EU Blue Card Network - Live and Work in Europe

The EU Blue Card Scheme is designed to make Europe a more attractive destination for highly educated persons from outside the European Union. All twenty-seven EU member states, except the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland, participate in the EU Blue Card scheme.

Highly qualified persons have opted in the past for destinations such as the United States, Canada or Australia. The European initiative has a number of distinctive qualities that will help Europe become the world's most favourite migration destination. - Blue Card Network

11/25/2012: High-Skill Green Cards Get Lame-Duck Push in Congress

In the first test of a new political climate on immigration reform, the lame-duck House of Representatives is renewing a push to eliminate America's random visa lottery and replace it with a bill favored by thousands of Silicon Valley immigrant workers: one that would give green cards to foreigners with advanced U.S. degrees in science, engineering and math. - Mercury News

11/19/2012: USCIS Expanded e-Request Services

USCIS has expanded the services offered by our e-Request system. This Web-based tool allows customers to inquire about applications and petitions submitted to USCIS. On November 19, customers will see the following enhancements to e-Request:

  • Create a service request for all forms to either inquire about the status of your application or petition if it is outside of the normal processing time OR notify USCIS about an administrative error in a notice or document we sent you.
  • For Forms I-90 and N-400 only, inquire about an Application Support Center appointment notice or other notice you were expecting to receive.

11/14/2012: New Pending I-485 Inventory Released

USCIS today released the employment-based pending I-485 inventory (data as of 10/04/2012). Our green card tracker has now been updated with the new data. You can check your place in line directly using the tracker, read the inventory tables for your particular category, or download the entire dataset in pdf format (original USCIS document).

The State Department has not yet published the Consular Processing inventory, which is expected later this month.

11/14/2012: Why Republicans are Suddenly Pro-Immigration Reform

Republicans lost the election in part because Mitt Romney drew record-low support from Hispanic voters, who made up a record-high proportion of the electorate. Within days, top Republicans have figured out what to do about this: Support immigration reform!

Immigration reform has a tortured history of being used as a political football by both parties. But what gives advocates so much hope at the current moment is that both parties' incentives finally seem to be aligned. Republicans are desperate to make a gesture of inclusion to minorities; Democrats face pressure to fulfill a campaign promise. Meanwhile, the counter pressures that have doomed action in the past -- chiefly the anger of a noisy but small segment of the Republican base -- have faded in the past few years. - Atlantic

11/07/2012: December 2012 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the December 2012 Visa Bulletin. China-EB2 will advance 51 days to 2007-10-22. India-EB2, however, will again be stuck at 2004-09-01. ROW-EB2 remains Current.

EB3 movement for December: China (77 days), India (10 days) and ROW (30 days)

DOS also published their visa bulletin predictions for the coming months.

11/06/2012: Obama Seizes Another Chance

The Barack Obama who won a second term Tuesday was a different candidate from the one swept into power four years ago on promises of hope and change.

Instead, he has envisioned a second term that would bring a handful of solid victories; a deficit deal, an immigration overhaul and corporate tax reform top his list. He wants to protect and implement laws from his first term, particularly his health-care reform and new financial regulations. - WSJ

11/02/2012: Tomorrow is Last Day for Green Card Lottery (DV-2014)

A friendly reminder that tomorrow, November 3, 2012 is the last day to enter the DV-2014 green card lottery. No entries will be accepted after noon, EDT, on November 3. DV lottery is free to all participants.

11/01/2012: USCIS Publishes New, Fillable Form I-140

"A new Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, is now available. We changed the format to improve intake processing and added Adobe fillable format features to make it easier for you to complete the form...Editions dated Jan. 06, 2010, and later will be accepted until Dec. 30, 2012. After this date, we will only accept the Oct. 1, 2012, edition."

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