White House Immigration Update

Jenna is an Intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

On August 5th, the White House released a comprehensive update on President Obama’s efforts relating to immigration these past few months, including traveling to Texas in July to meet with local officials, faith leaders, and Governor Rick Perry in response to the growing humanitarian crisis occurring in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  The update also details the first-ever White House National Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration held on July 16th, which gathered policymakers and practitioners from around the world to discuss successful integration initiatives and programs for immigrants and refugees, as well as President Obama’s continued press in early August for Congress to pass his emergency supplemental appropriations request that asks for $3.7 billion in order to comprehensively address the urgent humanitarian situation at the Southwest border.

For full details on the Administration’s immigration efforts, please see the White House updates and blog highlights below.

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Skilled & Educated Immigrants Move to Germany

According to statistics issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development, Germany was only second to the United States in the number of skilled and educated immigrants it received in 2012.  In 2012 Germany simplified its immigration procedures to encourage skilled and educated immigrants to move there and increase its working population.  Evidently, this is a result of a fairly stagnant growth rate in the country.  Frankfurt and Berlin have been cited as foreign-friendly cities.

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Current Delays in Consular Visa Processing World-Wide

The U.S. State Department’s computer system for processing passport and visa applications crashed this week leading to global delays for travel documents.  Although the system is back on line it’s still not operating at full capacity.  The U.S. government does not believe the problems are the result of any outside terrorist or malicious action, although the cause of the problem has not been identified yet.  The problem occurred after routine maintenance, and was worldwide, not confined to any one specific country.  The State Department states it has one of the largest Oracle-based data warehouses in the world.  It has reported that in 2009 the database contained over 100 million visa cases and 75 million photographs, with the addition of approximately 35,000 visa cases every day.  We urge everyone that plans to apply for visas at the U.S. Consulates worldwide to build in extra time for processing due to the current large backlogs.

 

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Posted in Consular Issues, In The News

Approved H-1B Visa Holders Can Start Applying For Passport Visas

Beneficiaries of approved H-1B petitions with an October 1, 2014 start date may now begin filing their visa applications at U.S. consular posts.  Posts are authorized to accept H visa petitions and issue visas to qualified applicants up to 90 days in advance of applicants’ beginning of employment status. However, the post must inform applicants verbally and in writing that they can only use the visa to apply for admission to the United States starting ten days prior to the beginning of the approved status period.  So you can beat the rush in getting the passport visa at the U.S. Consulate near your home, but cannot come to the United States until September.

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Obama Moving Forward on Immigration Alone

Jenna is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

President Barack Obama announced on June 30th plans to tackle immigration reform on his own in the upcoming months due to lack of Congressional action on the issue.  The pledge to pursue executive action came after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) formally told the president last week that the House would not pass an overhaul of immigration laws.

While the Senate bill for immigration reform passed a year ago, the House failed to follow suit.  Now, with Boehner’s confirmation that the House will not vote on reform this year, Obama in response vowed to move forward regardless, stating, “If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours.”

Immigration reform has increasingly been a topic of concern as thousands of unaccompanied minors have been apprehended at the border this year.  Obama did not specify his plans during the remarks, but did speak of his intention to redirect immigration enforcement efforts to the U.S. – Mexico border, shifting resources away from the interior of the country.

To watch the full remarks, please click here.

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Supreme Court Rules Some Children Over 21 Must Restart Visa Process

Jenna is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that nearly all immigrant children who turn 21 while waiting for their families’ visa application to be approved will have to restart the process.  The 5-to-4 decision came before the court in Scialabba v. Cuellar de Osorio, a case involving an immigrant from El Salvador, Rosalina Cuellar de Osorio, who applied for a visa along with her then 13-year-old son.  Once her son turned 21, he was told that he no longer qualified as an eligible child, resulting in him being placed at the back of the line and waiting several more years for a visa.

The ruling will affect tens of thousands of immigrant children who “age out” of the system every year while waiting for their families’ green cards to be approved, according to government estimates.  However, this ruling will not affect the thousands of unaccompanied minors traveling across the U.S. – Mexico border.

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Posted in Green Card, In The News

Important Proposed Changes to the H-1B Visa

Jenna is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

On May 6th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced two proposed rule changes in hopes to attract new investment and business to the United States.  The proposals would extend employment authorization to spouses of certain H-1B workers and would remove obstacles to highly skilled workers remaining in the U.S.

Employment Authorization for Spouses of H-1B Workers

Under current regulations, employment authorization is not extended to dependents (known as H-4 nonimmigrants) of H-1B nonimmigrant workers.  The proposed rule change would allow H-4 dependent spouses to seek employment authorization if the H-1B worker meets the following criteria:

  • Is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Has been granted an extension of their authorized period of stay in the U.S. under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21)

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US Consulates in Canada Suspend Processing 3rd Country Nationals During Summer

U.S. Consulates in Canada are temporarily suspending third country national processing during June, July, and August 2014.  Applicants with appointments already scheduled at a post in Canada during these months will not be affected.  Only emergency cases may seek consideration for scheduling an interview at a consulate in Canada.

To make a request for an emergency appointment during these three months, go to canada.usembassy.gov.

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Influx of Unaccompanied Children Crossing Border an “Urgent Humanitarian Situation”

Jenna is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

In a memorandum dated June 2nd President Obama declared the increasing wave of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. – Mexican border an “urgent humanitarian situation” and directed federal officials to lead relief efforts in response to the influx of unaccompanied children.  President Obama states in the memo that an interagency group of individuals will be established in order to provide humanitarian relief to the unaccompanied minors in the form of housing, care, medical treatment and transportation.

The flow of children coming into the U.S. without parents or guardians has been steadily increasing over the last few years, but has skyrocketed within the last year, according to White House officials.  In the fiscal year 2013, there were 24,668 unaccompanied minors apprehended at the southwest border.  The Department of Health and Human Services predict an estimated 60,000 unaccompanied minors could be caught arriving in the U.S. illegally this year.

Speculations are that the surge of unaccompanied children is driven primarily by growing violence in Central America, as well as the belief that unaccompanied children will be treated more favorably than other classes of illegal aliens.

To read the full memorandum from President Obama, click here.

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High Demand for H-1B Visa Petitions Continues

Jenna is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

Once again, demand for H-1B visa petitions greatly exceeded the supply, as predictably, the H-1B visa quota cap for fiscal year 2015 was reached quickly.  Within the first five days of the filing, USCIS reached the H-1B cap for the fiscal year, receiving approximately 172,500 H-1B visa petitions.  This marks a nearly 50,000 increase of H-1B petitions from the previous year.

Under the current H-1B program, USCIS approves no more than 65,000 H-1B visa petitions each fiscal year, plus an additional 20,000 petitions for professionals who have earned a graduate degree from a U.S. university or college.  A computer generated process randomly selects which visa petitions USCIS will process while unselected petitions are returned with filing fees.

This is the second consecutive year that the H-1B visa cap has been reached within five days. While the cap remains in place at 65,000, demand for H-1B visas continues to increase.  This means that statistically a dismal 37% of applicants received visas under the regular quota.  The problems with the low H-1B visa quota and USCIS’ reluctance to approve L-1B (intra-company transfer with specialized knowledge) visas, further causes problems for foreign professional workers seeking to work in the United States at a time when there appears to be no solutions coming from the Hill.

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Posted in H-1B Visa Petitions, In The News
About ABCs of Immigration Law
The global economy has become increasingly transactional and transcontinental. Since 9/11, there have been many amendments to immigration laws in the United States that have largely affected both individuals and businesses. Cozen O'Connor's immigration law blog, ABC's of Immigration Law, focuses on the interests and the challenges faced by those individuals and business impacted by immigration laws.
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