Duplicate Biometrics Appointment Notices

There are reports that USCIS is issuing a second biometrics appointment notice after receiving a prior notice over the past several weeks and appearing for biometrics capture.  We understand that the American Immigration Lawyers Association has contacted USCIS about the problem and it is due to USCIS’ change in computer programs.  In the meantime, check your records before appearing for any appointment.  Also, do not disregard it.  Instead, ask your lawyer to inform USCIS that the biometrics have already been taken.

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ALERT – NEW SCAM TARGETS INDIAN H-1B APPLICANTS

Beware of a new scam, experienced by our clients and confirmed to have occurred by the American Immigration Lawyers Association to employees of other Indian companies.  Callers, posing as officers of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), claim that USCIS has found problems or discrepancies in the person’s immigration files and ask for personal information.  Do not share any personal or petition data with anyone, as it can be used to get more of your personal information from USCIS or potentially to create false immigration documents in your name.  The caller knows the person’s name, address, and that the person has applied for an H-1B visa in the United States.  At this time we do not know if this is confined to employees of Indian companies only.

The scam gets worse.  The caller tells the H-1B applicant that USCIS charges a penalty for such discrepancies and tells them to send money, via Western Union, to a certain address.  Note that USCIS will not call an H-1B applicant and demand information or money over the phone.  It will communicate, normally in writing, with the attorney of record.  If there is no attorney of record, it will normally communicate with the petitioner (applicant company) also in writing.  If anyone calls, no one should respond to the questions, instead get the person’s name and phone number and tell them you will call them back.  Then report it to your attorney or local authorities (FBI, Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection).

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Problems With Availability of EB-5 Visas for Chinese Nationals

On August 23, 2014, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that the EB-5 visa category for Chinese nationals will be unavailable in the upcoming September 2014 Visa Bulletin because the maximum number of EB-5 visas for Chinese nationals has been reached for fiscal year 2014.

On October 1, 2014, when fiscal year 2015 begins, the EB-5 visa category for Chinese nationals will become current and, therefore, immediately available again. However, according to visa usage trends, the DOS predicts that in May 2015 the category will retrogress to a priority date of June 2013, so will no longer be available again.

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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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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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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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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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