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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Posted in In The News

Obama Moving Forward on Immigration Alone

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

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

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)

Read more ›

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Posted in In The News

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”

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

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

Arrival/Departure History Now Available on I-94 Webpage

 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched a new webpage on May 1 that offers nonimmigrant U.S. visitors access to their I-94 arrival/departure record and their arrival/departure history. 

The new CBP webpage allows nonimmigrant travelers to access arrival/departure records going back five years from the request date.  This electronic travel-history function means that travelers may no longer need to file Freedom of Information Act requests to receive their arrival/departure history, greatly speeding their process.  Travelers will have electronic access to the date and port of entry of their arrivals and departures. 

When travelers visit the I-94 webpage, they can retrieve their I-94 arrival/departure record number and five-year travel history by entering the required name, date of birth, and passport information.

Clicking on “Get Most Recent I-94” will return the I-94 number, most recent date of entry, class of admission and admit-until date.  The information does not reflect changes of status, extension of stay, or adjustments of status granted by U.S. citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Travelers then have the option to print the record.

Read more ›

Posted in In The News, Nonimmigrant Visas, Uncategorized, USCIS New Policies/Procedures

Differences In Dates in USCIS L Visa Approval & Consulate Passport Visa Stamp

Your passport L-1A visa stamp is good until 2015, but the USCIS approval expires in 2014, which one is correct?  The dichotomy in the passport visa stamp and the USCIS approval can be confusing.  There is a difference in the L status that is required to stay legally in the US (which USCIS approves) and the visa stamp that is required to enter the US (the passport stamp).  Before 2012, the Consulates issued passport visas only for duration of USCIS approval; since 2012, the L visa stamp is based on the reciprocal treatment the applicant’s country accords US citizens (i.e., citizens of Germany, UK and Japan get an automatic 5 year passport visa stamp).  This way the applicant need not return to the Consulate to get a renewed passport visa stamp.  However, this does not extend the time the L visa holder can stay in the US.  To confuse people even more, this also works in the reverse.  Citizens of China, Brazil and Russia only get 2 year passport visa stamps, irrespective of what the USCIS approval says.

Posted in Consular Issues, Immigrant Visas, In The News, Nonimmigrant Visas

Fiscal Year 2014 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program

On April 1, 2014 USCIS began accepting applications for a competitive grant funding opportunity to promote immigrant civic integration and prepare permanent residents for citizenship.  USCIS will offer up to $10 million in competitive funding for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.  This funding opportunity is for public or non-profit organizations that prepare permanent residents for citizenship by offering both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services.  Applications are due by May 16, 2014.  See uscis.gov for more detail.

  • Funding Opportunity:   DHS-14-CIS-010-002
  • Application Deadline:   May 16, 2014 (No extensions)
  • Estimated Number of Awards:   Up to 40
  • Anticipated Funding Amount:   Up to $10,000,000
  • Performance Period:   Two years (comprising two one-year budget periods)
  • Anticipated Award Date:   September 17, 2014
  • Maximum Grant Award:   Maximum grant award is $250,000 ($125,000 for the first year budget period and $125,000 for the second year budget period)
Posted in Consular Issues, Green Card, ICE, Immigrant Visas, In The News, Nonimmigrant Visas, Uncategorized, USCIS New Policies/Procedures
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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