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Immigration News - September and October of 2013

10/31/2013: Tips for Foreign Nationals in the United States Impacted by Civil Unrest or Natural Disasters in Their Home Country

Conditions in your home country, such as civil unrest or a severe environmental disaster may impede your ability to return home as originally planned or may create temporary financial difficulties for you and your family. Extreme situations beyond your control also may affect your ability to maintain lawful immigration status while in the United States. During these special situations, temporary relief measures may be available to eligible foreign nationals. - USCIS

10/30/2013: USCIS Launches Redesigned USCIS.GOV Website

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced the launch of the agency's redesigned website available in both English and Spanish. The redesigned website provides customers with a simplified and more user-friendly experience. The website incorporates current best practices while introducing a new content management system that will improve functionality and allow for continued enhancements. Some of the improvements to the new website include better navigation menus, a tools section that helps customers complete common electronic transactions, and a more prominent search bar that produces improved results.

10/29/2013: U.S. to Hit Infosys With Record Immigration Fine

The federal government is set to slap Infosys Ltd. with the largest immigration fine ever, claiming the Indian outsourcing giant illegally placed workers on visitor, rather than work, visas at big corporate clients across the U.S. The government is expected to announce Wednesday it will fine Infosys about $35 million, according to people close to the matter. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department found that the Indian company used inexpensive, easy-to-obtain B-1 visas meant to cover short business visits—instead of harder-to-get H-1B work visas—to bring an unknown number of its employees for long-term stays, these people say. - WSJ

10/27/2013: ICE: Health Care Info Will Not Be Used to Enforce Immigration Law

Consistent with the ACA's, the SSA's, and implementing regulations' limitations on the use of information provided by individuals for such coverage, and in line with ICE's operational focus, ICE does not use information about such individuals or members of their household that is obtained for purposes of determining eligibility for such coverage as the basis for pursuing a civil immigration enforcement action against such individuals or members of their household, whether that information is provided by a federal agency to the Department of Homeland Security for purposes of verifying immigration status information or whether the information is provided to ICE by another source. - ICE Memo

10/24/2013: President Obama on Immigration: 'Let's do it now'

Immigration reform may not pass, but that's no reason to give up the fight, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The president made his long-awaited return to the issue in a brief East Room speech urging advocates to keep the pressure on House Republicans to take action on the Senate's immigration bill, saying that only public pressure will lead to action. And yet Obama expressed some of the same skepticism he decried, saying that while immigration reform is "the right thing to do," it doesn't have a clear path to success.- Politico

10/22/2013: USCIS Memo on 17-Month Extension of Post-Completion OPT for F-1 Students

Therefore, in accordance with the above interpretation of 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(1) and (2), F-1 students who are currently in a period of post-completion OPT while completing his or her thesis and has completed all other course requirements for his or her STEM degree, is eligible to apply for a 17- month STEM extension, notwithstanding the fact that the student has not yet completed the thesis requirement or equivalent for his or her STEM degree. - USCIS

10/21/2013: I-130 Transfer from National Benefits Center to Service Centers

USCIS recently began transferring some casework from the National Benefits Center to the Nebraska, Texas and California Service Centers to balance overall operational workload. The affected casework includes the following form: I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by U.S. citizens for their eligible immediate relative (spouse, child, or parent).

If your case was transferred, USCIS will send you a notice listing the transfer date and where your case will be processed. Your original receipt number will not change and this will not further delay the processing of your case. - USCIS

10/18/2013: Important Information on Form I-129 H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B Petitions

If an H-1B, H-2A, or H-2B petitioner submits evidence establishing that the primary reason for failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request was due to the government shutdown, USCIS will consider the government shutdown as an extraordinary circumstance and excuse the late filing, if the petitioner meets all other applicable requirements. - USCIS

10/18/2013: Immigration Legislation's Prospects Bleak After Bitter Budget Fight

The rough justice dispensed by the White House and Senate Democrats during the standoff impasse has further soured key House Republicans on passing immigration legislation. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who earlier this year had been working with lawmakers from both parties to write an immigration bill, said that President Obama's refusal to negotiate with House Speaker John Boehner over funding the government and increasing the country's borrowing limit made him unwilling to enter into talks over immigration. - NYT

10/17/2013: U.S. Government to Reopen on Thursday

A potentially crippling U.S. debt default was averted late Wednesday, as Congress passed legislation to end a political showdown that had rattled financial markets, splintered the Republican Party and showcased Washington dysfunction. The House voted 285-144 to reopen the government through Jan. 15, suspend the debt ceiling through Feb. 7 and lay the groundwork for talks over broader budget issues. The Senate earlier approved the bill 81-18. President Barack Obama signed the bill early Thursday morning. - WSJ

10/14/2013: U.K. Unveils New Measures to Limit Immigration

The British government pressed ahead with its controversial plan to crack down on illegal immigrants Thursday, despite arguments that its tougher approach could deter people with much-needed skills coming from abroad and that the measures will be unworkable.

In an attempt to counter concerns among British voters that foreigners are placing an unnecessary strain on public services at a time of spending cuts, the government Thursday published its Immigration Bill, which is designed to make it easier to remove illegal immigrants and to prevent them from using state-funded services such as health care. - WSJ

10/10/2013: November 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for October 2013. 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 Second (EB2) 23
India Second (EB2) 0
ROW Third (EB3) 92
China Third (EB3) 92
India Third (EB3) 0
Mexico Third (EB3) 92
Philippines Third (EB3) 14

DOS Explanation on EMPLOYMENT-based Third Preference:

"China: Rapid forward movement of the cut-off date, as a result of there being insufficient demand to use all available numbers, allowed the category to reach the Worldwide Third preference cut-off date in May 2013. The continued lack of demand has allowed the "otherwise unused" numbers available under that limit to be provided for use in the China Employment Third preference Other Workers category. The continued addition of those numbers has allowed the cut-off date for that category to reach the China Third preference date for November. This is the same action which has been possible for the Other Worker category in other "oversubscribed" countries such as India and Mexico. A sudden increase in demand for China Employment Third preference visas could require corrective action in the China Other Worker cut-off date at any time."

10/08/2013: Democratic Lawmakers Arrested During Immigration Protest

Eight Democratic lawmakers were arrested Tuesday while advocating for comprehensive immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol. The politicians, along with activists who attended an immigration rally on the National Mall Tuesday afternoon, staged a sit-in near the west side of the Capitiol. Authorities arrested the lawmakers for crowding and disrupting the streets around the Capitol. Police arrested almost 200 people during the protest. - NBC News

10/07/2013: Quick Survey on Government Shutdown

Is the government shutdown affecting your immigration cases in any way? Let us know:

10/05/2013: Illegal Immigrants Allowed to Practice Law in California

Illegal immigrants can be licensed to practice law in California under one of eight bills expanding immigrant rights that were signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday. The California Supreme Court, which finalizes requests of applicants to be licensed as a lawyer in California, is now authorized to approve qualified applicants regardless of their immigration status. - Chicago Tribune

10/03/2013: California OKs Giving Driver's Licenses to Illegal Immigrants

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday adding California to the growing list of states allowing immigrants living in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses. Immigrant advocates have long lobbied for the change in the nation's most populous state. The licenses would carry a distinction on the front of the card that states the document may be used for driving, not as federal identification. - CBS

09/30/2013: Impact of Government Shutdown on Immigration Agencies

A discussion on the impact of the government shutdown on USCIS and other immigration agencies.

09/30/2013: Office of Foreign Labor Certification Contingency Plan

The Administration is working very hard to avoid a government shutdown and believes there is sufficient time to avoid such an occurrence; however, prudent management requires the Department to plan for the possibility that it may need to suspend operations should Congress be unable to pass a funding bill by midnight on Monday, September 30, 2013.

OFLC functions are not "excepted" from a shutdown and its employees would be placed in furlough status should a lapse in appropriated funds occur. Consequently, in the event of a government shutdown, OFLC will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses) it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC's web site, including the iCERT Visa Portal System, would become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts. - OFLC

09/30/2013: With Shutdown Looming, Senate Returns to Work

With what would be the first government shutdown in 17 years due to take effect at midnight Tuesday, the Senate will return to business Monday afternoon to consider the Republican House's weekend spending-bill offer, which the chamber's ranking Democrat has vowed to reject.

There have been 17 government shutdowns, the most recent lasting from Dec. 16, 1995, to Jan. 6, 1996 -- the longest in U.S. history. - Fox News

09/27/2013: Minimal Impact on USCIS under Potential Government Shutdown

The Department of Homeland Security's 2011 contingency plan designated about 84 percent of the agency's rougly 230,000 employees as "essential," meaning they would have remained on the job for the "safety of human life or protection of property." Some of those workers would have also been part of an "emergency relocation group" that responds to possible emergency situations.

Among DHS components, the Transportation Security Administration would have retained about 87 percent of its workforce under a 2011 shutdown, while about 74 percent of Federal Emergency Management Agency and 84 percent of both Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection employees would have remained on the job. Topping the list with the highest percentage would have been U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, at 98 percent, followed by the Secret Service, with 89 percent. - Washington Post

09/25/2013: California Lawmakers Move to Shield Illegal Immigrants from Deportation

Police in California would be prohibited from helping deport some illegal immigrants under a bill being considered by Gov. Jerry Brown, in a proposed change some say would violate federal law. The so-called Trust Act would bar police from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on a variety of cases. Proponents say the bill is narrowly focused and only applies to those illegal immigrants arrested for minor crimes.

Prosecutors and sheriffs disagree. - Fox News

09/23/2013: Illegal Immigration May Be Back on the Rise

After leveling off in recent years, illegal immigration may be back on the rise, according to a new study that will provide ammunition to House Republicans who want to secure the southwest border with Mexico before considering a broader overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. - USA Today

09/19/2013: Man Sentenced to 15 Months in Plot to Bribe Immigration Official

A Connecticut man has been sentenced to 15 months in prison in a plot to bribe an immigration officer to get a green card. Prosecutors say in 2011, Israr and a Maryland attorney contacted a person whom the attorney said would provide immigration documents for money. Authorities say neither Israr nor his lawyer knew the person was, in fact, an undercover agent. - Washington Post

09/19/2013: Outside Groups Try to Revive Immigration Reform

Nancy Pelosi is huddling with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, top labor leaders and former AOL executive Steve Case in separate meetings this week as supporters of immigration reform try to revive the issue, which fast seems to be dying on Capitol Hill. Their goal: get legislation moving in the House again before the Thanksgiving recess. - Politico

09/16/2013: Green Card Lottery DV-2015 Instructions

DV 2015 Program: Online registration for the DV 2015 Program will begin on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and conclude on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4). - DOS

09/15/2013: Immigrants Lacking Papers Work Legally — As Their Own Bosses

Although federal law prohibits employers from hiring someone residing in the country illegally, there is no law prohibiting such a person from starting a business or becoming an independent contractor. As a result, some young immigrants are forming limited liability companies or starting freelance careers — even providing jobs to U.S. citizens — as the prospect of an immigration law revamp plods along in Congress. - LA Times

09/13/2013: More Than 100 Women Arrested at Capitol Immigration Reform Protest

U.S. Capitol Police arrested more than 100 people Thursday after a group of female demonstrators participating in an immigration reform rally locked arms and blocked an intersection in downtown Washington, D.C. The women, wearing red T-shirts demanding "Fair Immigration Reform," called for members of the House of Representative to pass comprehensive and inclusive immigration reform that treats women and children fairly. They then joined hands and sat in a circle on a major street through the Capitol complex. - ABC

09/09/2013: October 2013 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for October, 2013. 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 Second (EB2) 38
India Second (EB2) 0
ROW Third (EB3) 0
China Third (EB3) 0
India Third (EB3) 0
Mexico Third (EB3) 0
Philippines Third (EB3) 14

09/04/2013: USCIS Implements Customer Identity Verification at Field Offices

Beginning September 9, 2013, USCIS will employ a new verification tool called Customer Identity Verification (CIV) in its field offices. Customers will now submit biometric data, specifically fingerprints and photographs, when appearing at USCIS offices for interviews or to receive evidence of an immigration benefit.

"After a customer arrives at a field office, clears security, and is called to the counter, we will electronically scan two fingerprints and take a picture to verify their identity. The process takes just a few minutes and applies only to customers who have an interview or receive evidence of an immigration benefit. People who come to our office for InfoPass appointments or to accompany a customer will not undergo this process. After we verify the customer's identity, they can proceed to their interview or receive their document." - USCIS

09/04/2013: USCIS Future Digital Customer Service Tools

"USCIS is also developing additional web tools that will make it easier to interact with agency representatives and receive answers to your questions. For our last idea campaign, we asked for your ideas on future self-help tools. Our next idea campaign, active through September 16, will allow you to provide feedback on ideas related to potential digital customer service tools. We would like to hear your thoughts on the following:"

  • Web chat enables you to get help from an agency representative live on the web through a chat window.
  • Email enables you to send an email to an agency representative and receive a response back within a few business days.
  • Co-browsing lets you share your computer screen with an agency representative so they can help you navigate the website.
  • Web callback lets you request an immediate or a scheduled callback from our website.
  • Social Media Engagement lets our staff answer questions that you may have through our YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

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