November 2014 Visa Bulletin Issued

Although there was a slight forward movement in most categories, the EB-2 for Indian nationals regressed significantly from May 1, 2009 to February 15, 2005.

For more information, please read the November 2014 Visa Bulletin here.  Note predictions on future visa availability on last page of the Visa Bulletin.

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DIVERSITY LOTTERY OPENS TODAY (October 1, 2014)

The 2016 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2016) opened at noon today October 1, 2014, and will close at noon (EST) on November 3, 2014 (see details above).  Applicants must submit entries electronically during the registration period at https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/.  Don’t wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, normally heavy demand at that time causes website crashes/delays.  We have had clients that won the lottery.  Good Luck!

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2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program permits natives from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for one of 50,000 diversity visas for fiscal year 2016.  Applicants must meet strict eligibility requirements in order to qualify for the program and, if met, applicants will then be entered into a lottery.  The randomly-selected computer drawing selects applications among six geographic regions, with no single country receiving more than seven percent of the visas.

For 2016, people born in the following countries are ineligible to apply, due to over 50,000 natives immigrating to the United States within the last five years:

- Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

Read more ›

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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.

Read more ›

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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.

Read more ›

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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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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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