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Immigration News - September and October of 2015

10/28/2015: Trump: Only in favor of legal immigration

"Donald Trump said people can immigrate to the U.S., but only if they do so legally. "If we need people, they have to come into this country legally. It's fine. If they come in they have to come in legally," he said during Wednesday's Republican debate.

Sen. Marco Rubio said the legal immigration system should be scrutinized as well. "Our legal immigration system from now on has to be merit-based," he said. To be considered, an immigrant must show skills and a willingness to be an American, Rubio added." - CNBC

10/26/2015: Green Card Tracker Updated with Data as of October 13, 2015

USCIS today published the pending I-485 inventory with data as of October 13, 2015. We have now updated the green card tracker with the latest information. Just like the July update, this latest release contains a significant number of new filings in the China EB-2 category due to rapid cutoff date movement in 2015. It will be interesting to see what the numbers look like, for all employment-based categories, once new applications are tallied as a result of dual-chart visa bulletins.

10/20/2015: San Francisco Votes to Keep Shielding Immigrants From Deportation Officials

"The Board of Supervisors upheld San Francisco's status as a sanctuary for immigrants on Tuesday, unanimously passing a resolution that called on local law enforcement not to notify the federal authorities when unauthorized immigrants are released from custody.

The city had been under pressure from critics of its policies on immigrants after Kathryn Steinle, 32, a tourist from Pleasanton, Calif., was fatally shot in the chest in July while walking with her father along the Embarcadero waterfront. The man accused of the shooting, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is an unauthorized immigrant who has been deported to Mexico five times for various felonies, including drug charges, and had been released from a San Francisco jail shortly before the killing." - NY Times

10/20/2015: White Backlash' to Latino Immigration

"Is there a downside to the rapid growth of the Latino population in American politics? A new book by two professors at the University of California at San Diego posits that mass immigration by Latinos has touched off a wave of bitterness among white voters who are voicing their disapproval with a migration of their own to the Republican Party - who is receiving them with open arms." - NBC

10/16/2015: Proposal to Extend STEM OPT to 24 Months

"The optional practical training program, or OPT, allows nonimmigrant international students and new graduates to extend their time in the U.S. on their F-1 student visa status to gain on-the-job-learning for up to a year. The proposed rule would allow certain F-1 STEM students to extend their OPT period by 24 months with the appropriate mentoring and training by employers. The proposed rule would also improve and increase oversight over OPT STEM extensions." - ICE

10/14/2015: Important Update on "Filing" Visa Bulletins

USCIS has posted a critical update on the use of the filing visa bulletin charts. Basically, each month USCIS will determine whether the "filing" cutoff dates can be used for submitting I-485 applications. If yes, USCIS will state so on their website and applicants may then proceed based on the "filing" cut off dates. Otherwise, the "approval" cutoff dates will be used to determine eligibility to file applications. This is not only confusing but also adds another step (and one more week) to the process which is absolutely unnecessary. Instead, USCIS should have worked with DOS before releasing the "filing" visa bulletin charts.

Below is the official announcement from USCIS:

"Beginning with the November 2015 Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin, if USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, we will state on that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. Unless otherwise stated on our website, the Application Final Action Date chart will be used to determine when individuals may file their adjustment of status applications. We anticipate making this determination each month and posting the relevant chart on our website within one week of DOS' publication of the Visa Bulletin." - USCIS

10/09/2015: November 2015 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for November 2015. The table below shows "approval" cut-off dates and 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 (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2012-02-01 31
India Second (EB2) 2006-08-01 457
ROW Third (EB3) 2015-08-15 0
China Third (EB3) 2012-01-01 78
India Third (EB3) 2004-04-01 24
Mexico Third (EB3) 2015-08-15 0
Philippines Third (EB3) 2007-06-15 165

09/30/2015: House Passes Funding Bill, Averts Government Shutdown

"Party leaders have kept their promise of no government shutdown Wednesday afternoon – at least for the time being. Congress passed a short-term spending bill to fund the government ahead of the midnight deadline, when the new fiscal year begins. The Senate passed a continuing resolution Wednesday morning that will fund the government at previous years' levels. In the House, a minority of Republicans joined with Democrats to send the bill to President Obama's desk. Most Republicans opposed the measure over concerns with funding Planned Parenthood." - ABC

09/29/2015: Lawsuit Filed Against USCIS and DOS over Revised October 2015 Visa Bulletin

"We hinted at it throughout the weekend and indeed filed a lawsuit today suing USCIS and the State Department to force the agencies to revert back to the original version of the Visa Bulletin published on September 9th. We have filed the case in the Western District of Washington. Seattle is one of America's major technology capitals and is a great illustration of a city where so many of its residents are facing the consequences of USCIS' defenseless actions." - Greg Siskind

09/25/2015: Revised Visa Bulletin For October 2015

Revised September 25, 2015: This bulletin supersedes the bulletin for October 2015 that was originally published on September 9, 2015, and contained Dates for Filing Applications long used by the Department of State for internal processing purposes. Following consultations with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Dates for Filing Applications for some categories in the Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based preferences have been adjusted to better reflect a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process. - DOS

Note from The October 2015 Visa Bulletin on this site has been updated with the revised dates. All tracking and progress calculations have also been updated with the new information. DOS changed the cutoff dates for six categories, all in the "Filing" visa bulletins. The "Approval" charts remain unchanged from the one originally published on 9/9/2015.

    Revised Cutoff Dates for "Filing"
  • F1 Mexico: 01APR95
  • F3 Mexico: 01MAY95
  • EB2 China: 01JAN13
  • EB2 India: 01JUL09
  • EB3-Other PHILIPPINES: 01JAN10

09/24/2015: USCIS Suspends Final Adjudication of Employment-Based Adjustment Applications for the Remainder of FY 2015

Starting today, USCIS will suspend final adjudication of employment-based Form I-485 applications (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) because the Department of State reports that the statutory cap has been reached for the employment-based preference categories for fiscal year (FY) 2015. This suspension applies to all employment-based adjustment applications pending with USCIS through September 30, 2015 (the remainder of FY2015).

USCIS will continue to accept adjustment of status applications that are filed when the foreign national's priority date is earlier than the cut-off date published in the September Visa Bulletin for his or her preference category and country of birth/chargeability. USCIS will resume final adjudication of employment-based adjustment applications beginning October 1, 2015, when visa numbers are again available. - USCIS Email Alert

09/23/2015: Immigration agents allowed back in L.A. County jails, with limits

Federal immigration agents have returned to Los Angeles County jails to seek out deportable inmates under a new policy by Sheriff Jim McDonnell that has prompted criticism from immigrant advocates who say it could lead to racial profiling.

Under the new policy, jail officials will also notify ICE up to seven days before those inmates are being released so immigration agents can pick them up and initiate deportation proceedings. The new procedures stand in contrast to those in San Francisco, where lawmakers have banned all sheriff collaboration with immigration officials except when federal authorities have a court order or a warrant. - LA Times

09/21/2015: Should Congress Let Wealthy Foreigners Buy Green Cards?

There were just 700 visas issued in 2007; in 2014, for the first time ever, the program reached its quota of 10,000 visas through the EB-5 program and had to stop accepting applications. The quota was reached again this year. For wealthy foreigners, the EB-5 program is the best bet for getting U.S. citizenship. Other options—finding an employer or a family member to sponsor them—have long backlogs and a lot of paperwork. The EB-5, by contrast, is a relative breeze. - The Atlantic

09/18/2015: Silicon Valley Wants High-Skilled Immigration on Campaign Agenda, a lobbying group created by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech founders, is trying to get immigration reform on the agenda of the U.S. presidential campaign. Not the kind of immigration that has dominated the two Republican debates – the kind of immigration Silicon Valley relies on.

"Attracting entrepreneurs and human capital is critical to the tech community," said Todd Schulte, president of during a conference call on Thursday, strategically timed for the day after the second Republican debate. - WSJ

09/16/2015: Elusive crime wave data shows frightening toll of illegal immigrant criminals

In the absence of comprehensive data, examined a patchwork of local, state and federal statistics that revealed a wildly disproportionate number of murderers, rapists and drug dealers are crossing into the U.S. amid the wave of hard-working families seeking a better life. The explosive figures show illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population and account for far more crimes than their 3.5-percent share of the U.S. population would suggest. Critics say it is no accident that local, state and federal governments go to great lengths to keep the data under wraps.

Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant criminals are being deported. In 2014, ICE removed 315,943 criminal illegal immigrants nationwide, 85 percent of whom had previously been convicted of a criminal offense. But that same year, ICE released onto U.S. streets another 30,558 criminal illegal immigrants with a combined 79,059 criminal convictions including 86 homicides, 186 kidnappings, and thousands of sexual assaults, domestic violence assaults and DUIs, Vaughan said. As of August, ICE had already released at least 10,246 criminal aliens. - Fox News

09/11/2015: U.S. Drops Charges That Professor Shared Technology With China

When the Justice Department arrested the chairman of Temple University's physics department this spring and accused him of sharing sensitive American-made technology with China, prosecutors had what seemed like a damning piece of evidence: schematics of sophisticated laboratory equipment sent by the professor, Xi Xiaoxing, to scientists in China.

It was an embarrassing acknowledgment that prosecutors and F.B.I. agents did not understand — and did not do enough to learn — the science at the heart of the case before bringing charges that jeopardized Dr. Xi's career and left the impression that he was spying for China. - NY Times

09/10/2015: October 2015 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State and USCIS together made significant changes to the visa bulletin system. Starting from the October 2015 Visa Bulletin, there will be two cutoff dates for each preference category. One date is for filing a visa or I-485 application, and the other is for the final action, e.g. approval, on an existing case. So essentially, the "approval" visa bulletin is still the legacy version, but the added "filing" visa bulletin will often allow an applicant to submit their application much earlier than what the legacy visa bulletin would have permitted. Although filing an I-485 doesn't mean the applicant will become a permanent resident faster, it does bring significant benefits including the ability to apply for EAD and AP, among others. The table below shows cut-off date movement based on the "approval" visa bulletin. For more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2012-01-01 2191
India Second (EB2) 2005-05-01 -245
ROW Third (EB3) 2015-08-15 0
China Third (EB3) 2011-10-15 2488
India Third (EB3) 2004-03-08 -289
Mexico Third (EB3) 2015-08-15 0
Philippines Third (EB3) 2007-01-01 740

09/09/2015: Revised Procedures for Determining Visa Availability for Applicants Waiting to File for Adjustment of Status

USCIS, in coordination with Department of State (DOS), is revising the procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for employment-based or family-sponsored preference adjustment of status. Two charts per visa preference category will be posted in the DOS Visa Bulletin:

  • Application Final Action Dates (dates when visas may finally be issued); and
  • Dates for Filing Applications (earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply).

09/03/2015: Petition to propose a proper regulation for extending the STEM OPT before 02/2016

Recently, US federal judge deemed the regulation for extending the STEM OPT to 29 months (from 12 months) invalid due to lack of public notice and comment. The ruling, which will be effective in Feb 2016, will cause major disruption in labor market and education sector. Companies in various industries will lose a large number of contributing foreign employees, who will also have to face severe hardship. The ruling will potentially send false signal of tightening immigration policy to future foreign students in STEM fields and discourage them from coming to the US for scientific research. To avoid the massive impact on the US economy and education sector, we urge the White House to put in place a new, properly processed set of rules for the extension of the STEM OPT before February 2016. - White House Petition

09/03/2015: Significant Change to US Department of State Visa Bulletin

It is our understanding that the State Department intends to create two separate categories of cut-off dates, both of which would be reflected in each monthly Visa Bulletin. The first, an "approval" cut-off date, would function as the current cut-off date does and would regulate when an adjustment application or immigrant visa application may be approved. The second, an "acceptance" cut-off date, would regulate when an adjustment of status application may be filed and would allow the filing of such an application, provided that the foreign national's priority date is before the relevant acceptance cut-off date. Once the adjustment application is filed, the foreign national would be eligible for the secondary benefits available to adjustment of status applicants, including employment authorization documents, advance parole authorizations, and I-140 immigrant petition portability. - National Law Review

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