Posted On: October 31, 2011

November 2011 E-Verify Webinars

USCIS offers free live webinars on topics relating to the E-Verify program. E-Verify allows participating employers to verify employment eligibility of workers by comparing the data provided on the Form I-9 against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. The webinars are live interactive seminars presented over the internet where participants can attend from any locale and ask questions. The topics on the November 2011 Webinar schedule are as follows:

Form I-9 Webinars: Get an overview of the Form I-9 process, including step by step instructions on how to complete each section, retention and storage.

E-Verify for Existing Users:A detailed review of E-Verify specifically for existing users. Topics include Form I-9, user roles, case alerts, how to handle a Tentative Nonconfirmation,
and common user mistakes.

E-Verify Overview: Learn how this free service works, how to enroll, employer responsibilities, program highlights, and see a demonstration.

E-Verify for Federal Contractors: Information for Federal contractors that have been or will be awarded a Federal contract with the FAR E-Verify Clause.

Self Check: An overview of the new “Self Check” program - a voluntary, fast, free and simple service that allows individuals to check their own employment eligibility.

For the specific times and dates, as well as information on how to participate, see www.dhs.gov/E-Verify and click on "Take a Free Webinar."

Posted On: October 27, 2011

Legislative Updates

California Governor, Jerry Brown, has signed a bill that bans mandatory participation of employers in the E-verify program. E-Verify is a program by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) allowing employers to confirm employment eligibility of employees by comparing the information provided on the Form I-9 against the DHS and SSA databases. Introduction of this bill is in response to certain parts of California that have been passing laws to mandate E-verify participation.

The “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act” (H.R. 3012) which was introduced on 9/22/2011 seeks to remove the employment-based per-country cap by fiscal year 2013 and increase the family-sponsored per-country cap from 7% to 15%. The Act was received favorably by the House Judiciary Committee on 10/27/11, including adoption of an amendment that would make adjustments to the three year phase-in period. The Act will likely be scheduled for House floor debate in the weeks to come.

Posted On: October 25, 2011

USCIS Issues Redesigned EAD and Certificate of Citizenship

USCIS has announced the production of a newly redesigned Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560) with enhanced security features to prevent counterfeiting and allow for easier authentication. USCIS, along with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Forensic Document Laboratory, have incorporated state-of-the-art technology into the redesign process, including tactile features and greatly improved printing techniques to deter tampering. USCIS began issuing the new EADs on Oct. 25th and will issue the new Certificates of Citizenship beginning Oct. 30th. All previously issued EADs will remain valid until the expiration date on the card. Additionally, all previously issued Certificates of Citizenship will remain valid indefinitely.

Posted On: October 25, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of October 21, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 46,200 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions. While the quota of 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions has been met, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions is met.

Posted On: October 24, 2011

FY 2011 Removal Numbers Total Nearly 400,000

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced its removal numbers for FY 2011 which totaled nearly 400,000, the largest number of removals in the agency’s history. These numbers reflect the agency’s goal in prioritizing its resources towards the removal of individuals who fall within its target enforcement areas, including the removal of convicted criminals, those who pose a threat to national security, recent border crossers, and repeat immigration law offenders and immigration fugitives. Specifically, ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 396,906 persons, and of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of those removed were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. The breakdown is as follows: 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence. The remaining 45% percent were civil immigration offenses with more than two-thirds involving recent border crossers or repeat immigration violators.

Posted On: October 20, 2011

USCIS Reverts Back to Prior Mailing Procedures of Receipt and Approval Notices

USCIS announced on 10/20/11 that it will be resuming its previous practice of sending original Form I-797 receipt and approval notices to the attorney or accredited representative of record. USCIS had previously made effective on 9/12/2011 a new procedure of mailing original notices directly to the applicant and petitioner and sending the copies to the attorney or accredited representative. However, after receiving feedback from the public regarding its negative impact, USCIS has decided to restore their old system of mailing the original notice to the attorney or accredited representative of record and sending a copy to the applicant or petitioner. Due to the time needed to reprogram its system, USCIS anticipates being able to resume its previous mailing practices in approximately six weeks.

Posted On: October 20, 2011

USCIS Director Announces Initiatives Aimed at Employment-Based and High-Skilled Immigration

On 10/20/11, USCIS Director, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, issued a letter outlining USCIS’ efforts and commitment to enhancing its policies and procedures towards improving U.S. economic success, particularly with respect to employment-based and high-skilled immigration. He cites to the following examples of the efforts made thus far by USCIS:

Adjudication of Petitions filed by Businesses Requesting L Intracompany Transferees

• On October 12, 2011, USCIS conducted a specialized training session for adjudicators on the L-1B classification to reinforce the principles set forth in existing L-1B policy guidance. We will continue this training.
• USCIS is revising Request for Evidence (RFE) templates for nonimmigrant employment-based categories, including the L intracompany transferee classification. Our RFE practices continue to be an area of intense review and reform.
• On August 18, 2011, the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) launched a new initiative to seek stakeholder input through the submission of amicus curiae briefs. The first request sought amicus briefs relating to the denial of an I-140 petition (Kazarian vs. USCIS). The AAO plans to request amicus briefs on a case related to the L-1B visa classification next.
• USCIS will in the next week make available a new bundled filing option for businesses filing for multiple L intracompany transferees.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

• In May 2011, USCIS issued a proposal to streamline and enhance the EB-5 program, and we have since implemented the first of the proposed enhancements: direct access for EB-5 Regional Center applicants to reach adjudicators quickly. We have also retained business analysts to support our adjudicators and are in the process of selecting full-time economists to bolster our expertise. In addition, we have retained an outside consultant to reengineer our business process from beginning to end.

Industry-Specific Enhancements

• In August 2011, USCIS announced a series of policy, operational, and outreach efforts to spur economic growth and job creation. Among other things, we clarified our policies to reflect the availability of the H-1B visa and the EB-2 national interest waiver to foreign-born entrepreneurs, and we are providing the needed training complement.
• To build on these efforts, we announced last week a new Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative, which will help us harness the expertise of industry leaders to inform our policy development and our training, so that we better understand and more ably address the realities and needs of the business community we serve.

Posted On: October 19, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of October 14, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 43,300 Bachelor's degree petitions and 19,600 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.

Posted On: October 19, 2011

USCIS Transitions to Direct Mailing of Original Receipt and Approval Notices to Applicants and Petitioners

Effective 9/12/2011, USCIS began mailing original I-797 receipt and approval notices directly to applicants and petitioners. Copies of the notices are being sent to attorneys or accredited representatives, if a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, was submitted with the application. Prior to this, USCIS had sent the original notice to the attorney or accredited representative of record and the copies went to the applicant or petitioner. Additionally, effective 11/28/11, documents produced as the result of an approved application will be mailed directly to the address provided by the applicant rather than the attorney or accredited representative on file. These adjustments are to ensure that original receipts and notices, decisions, and documents produced are mailed directly to the address specified by the applicant or petitioner.

For Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, USCIS will allow petitioners who wish to continue the practice of having the original receipt and approval notices sent to their attorney may use the attorney’s address as the mailing address on the petition. However, please note that using an alternate address other than the petitioner’s address as the mailing address may result in processing delays related to the Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE) which automatically uses the address provided on the petition to validate the petitioner’s current location. Therefore in these circumstances where the petitioner uses an attorney’s address as the mailing address on Form I-129, USCIS recommends including a cover letter indicating the actual address of the petitioner. Please also note that if an attorney’s address is used as the petitioner’s mailing address, the petitioner will not receive any I-797 notices.

Lastly with regard to cases filed through premium processing, USCIS will mail the original approval notice to an alternate address as long as the applicant or petitioner provides a pre-paid, self-addressed envelope with the requested alternate address.

Posted On: October 18, 2011

Update on Alabama’s Controversial Immigration Law, HB 56

On 10/14/11, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta blocked two important provisions of Alabama’s controversial immigration law, HB 56. HB 56 was first signed into law on June 9, 2011 and introduced controversial provisions targeting undocumented immigrants. The law has since been met with great opposition in court by the Department of Justice and other various organizations seeking to stop its enforcement. On 9/28/11, Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn enjoined certain provisions of the law, including the following:

• Section 8: Prohibiting undocumented aliens from attending or enrolling in an Alabama public post-secondary educational institution.
• Section 11(a): Prohibiting undocumented aliens from applying, soliciting, or performing work as an employee or independent contractor.
• Section 11(f): Prohibiting drivers from blocking or impeding traffic while attempting to hire or hiring/picking up passengers for work at a different location.
• Section 11(g): Prohibiting persons from entering a vehicle in order to be hired for work at a different location if the vehicle blocks or impedes traffic.
• Section 13: Prohibiting concealing, harboring, transporting, etc. of undocumented aliens.

However, certain key provisions remained in effect, such as the requirement of schools to identify undocumented students, restriction upon state courts to enforce contracts with undocumented individuals, making entering a business transaction a felony for the undocumented, and permitting local law enforcement to ask for immigration documents and deeming it a misdemeanor for failure to carry such identification.

The most recent developments on 10/14/11 by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals have resulted in the blocking of the following two key provisions:

• Section 10, making it a state crime to be undocumented in the state of Alabama;
• Section 28, requiring public school students to prove their immigration status or be presumed undocumented.

The following two provisions continue to be upheld:

• Section 30, making it a felony for undocumented individuals to enter into business transactions with the state or any subdivision thereof;
• Section 12, allowing local law enforcement to stop, detain, or arrest anyone they suspect of being undocumented.

Posted On: October 12, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of October 7, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 41,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 19,100 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.

Posted On: October 11, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of September 23, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 36,300 Bachelor's degree petitions and 17,700 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.

Posted On: October 11, 2011

USCIS Forms "Entrepreneurs in Residence" Initiative

USCIS announced a new initiative, “Entrepreneurs in Residence,” during a recent session of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in Pittsburg. The announcement was made at the Jobs Council’s High Growth Entrepreneurship Listening and Action Session before the Council’s quarterly meeting with President Obama. The initiative is aimed at collaborating with industry experts to gain valuable insights towards strengthening USCIS policies and procedures regarding immigrant investors, entrepreneurs, and workers with specialized skills. In doing so, USCIS also hopes to promote economic growth within the U.S. as it recognizes the important role immigration law plays in creating and protecting American jobs. The initiative will lead off with a series of informational summits, bringing together industry experts from both the private and public sectors for the first stage of strategic planning and input. A team of leading industry experts and entrepreneurs will then be formed to work alongside USCIS to enhance current policies and procedures. This new initiative is another step towards USCIS’ increasing efforts to promote the growth of jobs and investments through continuing improvements to its EB-5 (immigrant investor), EB-2 (advanced degrees or exceptional ability), and L-1B (specialized knowledge) visa classifications. Please see visit www.uscis.gov for more information on its new developments and programs.

Posted On: October 10, 2011

U.S. Legal Permanent Residence Trends Between 1892-2010

The Department of Homeland Security has compiled a study showing the legal permanent resident trends between 1892 and 2010. Its Office of Immigration Statistics has gathered information showing the total number of immigrants obtaining legal permanent status in the U.S. during this period. The information is presented in a map series showing a census broken down by region and division of residence across the U.S. The map series shows that the greatest numbers of individuals obtaining legal permanent residence occurred in the early 1900s in the Northeast region of the U.S. and another large influx occurred in the decade between 1990 and 2000 in the Western and Pacific regions of the U.S. To see the data and map series in full, see http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/maps/lpr/lpr-historical-resident-trends-by-state-1892-2010.pdf.

Posted On: October 9, 2011

2013 DV Lottery Registration is Open

The Department of State has started accepting 2013 Diversity Visa Applications entries, beginning on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4) through Saturday, November 5, 2011, at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4). All entries must be submitted electronically and the Diversity Visa form (E-DV) can be accessed at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov.

The Diversity Visa Program is an annual lottery open to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. If chosen, the winning applicant will be allowed to seek lawful permanent residence. For DV-2013, natives of the following countries are deemed ineligible: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, The Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. For more information on the eligibility requirements and the on-line application process, see http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html. Please contact our office for assistance.

Posted On: October 6, 2011

November 2011 Department of State Visa Bulletin

The new visa bulletin is out at this link: http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5572.html. Employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 remains current, except for India and China (Nov. 1, 2007); EB-3 is at December 22, 2005 for all countries, except for India (July 22, 2002) and China (August 22, 2004); EB-3 other workers is at November 15, 2005 for all countries, except India (June 15, 2002), China (April 22, 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 February 15, 2009 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines(brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) of August 22, 1988.