The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will depopulate the country listings from its National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). NSEERS required all temporary immigrants from 25 predominantly-Muslim countries to special registration requirements where they had to register their presence, fingerprints, and photographs with the immigration service upon entry. The special registration requirements targeting individuals from predominately-Muslim countries were implemented largely in response to the events of 9/11, but the program has been criticized for being poorly administered and fueling racial profiling. While depopulating the country listings from NSEERS is viewed as a positive step towards ending special registration, civil rights groups and groups such as American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) continue to call for the termination of the program as a whole.
A year has passed since the signing of SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law that required police officers to check the immigration status of individuals during any routine stop. Since then, many states around the country have proposed similar copycat immigration bills. Some have been ultimately rejected after being met with much protest, legal challenges, and economic boycotts from businesses and the tourism industry. But other states, like Georgia and Alabama recently passed Arizona copycat bills. Likewise, Florida’s immigration measures would subject unauthorized immigrants to jail and a fine. Indiana, on the other hand, stripped its immigration bill of such controversial enforcement measures after opposition from state businesses, and instead revised the bill to focus on tax penalties for employers who knowingly hire unauthorized immigrant workers. For more information on the various state immigration bills, see http://immigrationimpact.com/2011/04/22/one-year-after-sb1070-states-are-still-grappling-with-cost-of-immigration-measures-2/.
As of April 15, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 7,100 Bachelor's degree petitions and 5,100 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.
Effective April 6, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has resumed sending “no-match” letters to employers informing them when an employee is using a social security number that does not match up with SSA’s records. SSA advises that receipt of a no-match letter does not necessarily mean that the employee has intentionally provided fraudulent information and that adverse action should be taken against the employee. Rather, the no-match letter may be a result of typographical errors, name changes, and incomplete information. Therefore, employers are advised to complete the requested information as failure to do so may prevent SSA from crediting the employee with the correct wages and SSA may forward the no-match information onto the IRS or Department of Justice for investigation. Upon receipt of the letter, employers should review their files to see if their record matches the information submitted to SSA, as well as ask the employee to check their records for accuracy. If the employer and employee are unable to resolve the issue, the employer should provide the employee with a reasonable amount of time to contact SSA to resolve the mismatch. If the employee is no longer employed with the company, the employer should document its efforts to resolve the mismatch and hold onto the record for 4 years in the event of an audit.
The new visa bulletin is out at this link: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5424.html. Employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 remains current, except for India (July 2006) and China (Aug. 2006); EB-3 is at August 2005 for all countries, except for India (April 2002), China (April 2004), and Mexico (Sept. 2004); EB-3 other workers is at September 2003 for all countries, except India (April 2002), China (April 2003); EB-4, religious workers, EB-5, and targeted employment areas and regional centers are all current. Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at June 2007.
On April 1, 2011, the USCIS started accepting H-1B applications for FY2012, the next government fiscal year which starts on October 1, 2011. The current law provides an annual H-1B cap of 65,000 per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for H-1B applicants with U.S. master’s degrees or higher. The H-1B cap for FY 2011 was met in January 2011.
As of April 7, 2011, USCIS has received approximately 5,900 H-1B petitions toward the 65,000 cap and approximately 4,500 petitions toward the 20,000 advanced degree cap. The USCIS will continue to accept FY2012 H-1B cap cases until the quota is met.